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Marie Yovanovitch threatened by Trump

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US Ambassador in Ukraine Marie L. Yovanovitch

The former US ambassador to Ukraine said she was warned by officials in the country that President Donald Trump‘s personal lawyer, Mr Rudy Giuliani, was maneuvering against her and that they were concerned about getting dragged into US politics.

Ms Marie Yovanovitch, the former envoy, said Ukrainian officials alerted her to contacts between Mr Giuliani and former Ukrainian Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko, and “that Mr Lutsenko was looking to hurt me in the US”, according to the transcript of her private deposition released on Monday (Nov 4) by House committees leading the impeachment investigation.

Marie Yovanovitch said individuals whose goals and interests were not in line with those of the United States — and were instead motivated by politics — tried to smear her and orchestrated her removal as ambassador to Kyiv. Yovanovitch said she felt personally threatened by Trump’s suggestion to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during a July 25 phone call that she was “going to go through some things.”

“I was shocked. I mean, I was very surprised that President Trump would — first of all, that I would feature repeatedly in a presidential phone call, but secondly, that the president would speak about me or any ambassador in that way to a foreign counterpart,” Yovanovitch, who was recalled as U.S. ambassador to Ukraine in May, told investigators.

Yovanovitch said she did not know what Trump meant, adding: “I was very concerned. I still am.”

She said she told Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan that it was a “dangerous precedent” that “private interests and people who don’t like a particular American ambassador could combine to, you know, find somebody who was more suitable for their interests.”

Another key witness in the House’s impeachment inquiry, former senior State Department adviser Michael McKinley, described sagging morale at the department as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other top officials refused to defend Yovanovitch from the politically motivated attacks.

Transcripts of Yovanovitch’s and McKinley’s interviews with impeachment investigators were released Monday, the first such documents made public by lawmakers leading the probe, which centers on Trump’s efforts to pressure Zelensky to investigate his political opponents.

Asked about the transcript on Monday, Trump sought to downplay the offensive he led against Yovanovitch even as he took another shot at her.

Yovanovitch and McKinley both described a deepening concern that U.S. foreign policy had been negatively impacted by individuals such as Giuliani who were seeking to boost Trump’s domestic political standing.

Ms Yovanovitch said while she was telling Ukrainian officials that there was bipartisan support for the military aid, “There were other emissaries, you know, perhaps sharing things or focusing on other things that would have maybe confused people”.

The transcript from Ms Yovanovitch’s deposition showed that she told the House committees that the back-channel policy executed by Mr Giuliani “complicated things”. Mr Meadows, a Republican from North Carolina, downplayed the importance of these two transcripts, arguing that they don’t shed any light on the impeachment allegations.

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