Recalled US ambassador felt ‘threatened’ by Trump

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A recalled US ambassador at the centre of the Trump impeachment inquiry said she felt threatened by a cryptic remark the president made about her on a call.

Ex-envoy to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch told Congress she was “very concerned” by President Donald Trump’s comment in the phone call with Ukraine’s leader.

Mr Trump told his counterpart: “Well, she’s [Ms Yovanovitch] going to go through some things.”

Democrats have just released the first transcripts from closed-door testimony.

The Republican president is accused of trying to pressure Ukraine into investigating unsubstantiated corruption claims against his US political rival, Joe Biden, and his son, Hunter Biden, who worked with a Ukrainian gas company.

Ms Yovanovitch said she was “shocked” by what the president said about her in a 25 July phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

“I didn’t know what it meant,” she said about Mr Trump’s words. “I was very concerned. I still am.”

The House Intelligence Committee released Ms Yovanovitch’s testimony from 11 October on Monday.

On the Trump-Zelensky call, details of which were previously released by the White House, the US president also described Ms Yovanovitch as “bad news”.

In her testimony, the seasoned US diplomat said when she sought advice from the US Ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, a Trump donor, he suggested Ms Yovanovitch tweet praise of the president.

Ms Yovanovitch added that Mr Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani began efforts to discredit her in late 2018.

Mr Giuliani enlisted Ukraine’s prosecutor general, Yuriy Lutsenko, to spread “falsehoods” about her in order to “hurt” her “in the US”, according to Ms Yovanovitch.

She said she was warned by Ukraine’s justice minister “I really needed to watch my back”.

Ms Yovanovitch left Ukraine in May months ahead of her scheduled departure.

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On Monday the House Intelligence Committee also released the transcript from testimony by a former top adviser to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Michael McKinley, who appeared before Congress on 16 October for a private hearing, said he tried but failed to get Mr Pompeo to defend Ms Yovanovitch.

Mr McKinley said he had suggested a letter “that’s not political, stating clearly that we respect the professionalism, the tenure of Ambassador Yovanovitch in the Ukraine”.

But he told lawmakers he received a call from a Department of State spokeswoman telling him Mr Pompeo had rejected his idea.

Mr McKinley resigned from his post days before his congressional testimony last month.

He told the committee he had stepped down over his concerns about “the engagement of our missions to procure negative political information for domestic purposes”.

Mr McKinley said he had never seen such alleged tactics in 37 years of working for the US government.

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