Published: Sat, October 12, 2019

Ex-Ukraine ambassador testifies that Trump pressured State Department to oust her

Ex-Ukraine ambassador testifies that Trump pressured State Department to oust her

Hers may prove to be the most consequential testimony yet heard in the Democratic Party's impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump.

"I have received notice of concrete evidence from close companions that Ambassador Yovanovitch has spoken privately and repeatedly about her disdain for the current Administration in a way that might call for the expulsion of Ms. Yovanovitch as U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine immediately".

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says there was "no blackmail" in a phone call with President Donald Trump that helped spark an impeachment inquiry. Up until the time of her arrival, there was uncertainty about whether the White House or State Department would try to block her testimony.

"Although I understand that I served at the pleasure of the President, I was nevertheless incredulous that the USA government chose to remove an Ambassador based, as best as I can tell, on unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives", Yovanovitch said according to a copy of her prepared remarks published by the Washington Post.

But they also said it was unlikely she would be subjected to direct retaliation, noting she had testified in response to a congressional subpoena that gave her little choice but to appear despite a State Department order not to testify.

If confirmed by the Senate, Sullivan would be the top USA diplomat in Russian Federation at a particularly challenging time for Trump's presidency, which is facing an impeachment inquiry after Trump pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate his domestic political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden.

Who is Marie Yovanovitch and why is she testifying?

"In particular, her early recall raises questions about whether you put the personal interests of the president above the department's career personnel or USA foreign policy", they wrote. She speculated that "individuals who have been named in the press as contacts of Mr. Giuliani" may have believed their personal financial ambitions were stymied by USA anti-corruption policy.

Yovanovitch, according to a copy of her opening statement, said she had been told by a senior State Department official about "a concerted campaign against me".

Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump's personal lawyer, is being investigated by federal prosecutors in NY for possible lobbying violations.

"He also said that I had done nothing wrong and that this was not like other situations where he had recalled ambassadors for cause", Yovanovitch said.

Zelensky, however, denied any allegations that President Trump attempted to "blackmail" him to open investigations, saying he didn't even know that hundreds of millions of dollars worth of USA aid had been delayed until after he spoke with Trump on July 25. Neither Giuliani nor Trump has publicly specified their objections to her.

Rep. Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, briefly spoke to reporters after ex-ambassador Marie Yovanovitch's deposition ended.

Yovanovitch did not respond to TIME's request for comment, and has shunned the news media as the Ukraine scandal has escalated.

It appears to be some of these White House officials who first alerted the whistleblower who started off this process of what was going on with the July phone call and other matters related to Ukraine.

On Friday, Mr Giuliani said: "I was doing it in my role as a defence lawyer" for Mr Trump.

Sondland had been set to testify earlier this week, but his appearance was abruptly blocked by the State Department.

Trump's former top Russian Federation advisor Fiona Hill is scheduled to appear on Monday and Gordon Sondland, that ambassador Trump blocked from talking to Congress earlier this week, says he'll testify next week.

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