What Yovanovitch told Congress behind closed doors
Yovanovitch testified behind closed doors that Trump and Giuliani wanted her removed since the summer of 2018 because she refused to let Giuliani use the US Embassy in Ukraine in his efforts to obtain political dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden.
She said she felt “shocked” and “threatened” by the attacks leveled against her.
Yovanovitch also told Congress a top State Department official confirmed to her that her recall in May came despite her having “done nothing wrong.”
Multiple witnesses, including Bill Taylor, now the US’s chief envoy in Ukraine, and George Kent, a senior State Department official, have corroborated Yovanovitch’s claims.
Yovanovitch raised concerns with senior State Department officials about Giuliani before her ouster, but despite having their own concerns, they didn’t think they could stop him. After Yovanovitch was recalled, the acting assistant secretary of state, Philip T. Reeker, told her Secretary of State Mike Pompeo “was no longer able” to protect her from Trump.
Michael McKinley, who served as a top deputy to Pompeo, quit a few days before his testimony to Congress because of the State Department’s unwillingness to issue a statement supporting Yovanovitch. He also testified that several department employees had their careers derailed for political reasons.
Several government officials, including Taylor and Kent, have already testified to Congress behind closed doors, and their revelations paint a damaging portrait of a concerted effort across the administration to leverage US foreign policy to pressure Ukraine into acceding to Trump’s demands.
Specifically, the president wanted Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to make a public statement committing to investigate the Bidens and a bogus conspiracy theory suggesting it was Ukraine, not Russia, that interfered in the 2016 election.
Officials also outlined the lengths White House officials went to in order to conceal records of a July 25 phone call between Trump and Zelensky.
Witnesses have testified that five men were part of an effort to condition security assistance to Ukraine and a White House meeting on Zelensky publicly announcing the investigations Trump wanted.
The men are Giuliani; the US ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland; the special representative to Ukraine at the time, Kurt Volker; the acting White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney; and the outgoing energy secretary, Rick Perry.
The president’s defenders have said he did nothing wrong and that this is a normal part of how diplomacy and foreign policy are conducted.
But national security veterans, legal scholars, and at times Trump’s own officials who have testified have suggested his actions open him up to a variety of charges including abuse of power, bribery, extortion, misappropriation of taxpayer funds, and soliciting foreign interference in the 2020 election.
Eight more diplomats and national security officials are expected to testify publicly in the next week. Here’s the latest impeachment hearings schedule.