Ukraine Envoy: Trump Pressured State Dept. to Remove Me

As Biden calls for impeachment Trump adds legal muscle lashes out at whistleblower

In copies of the guidance shared with The Hill, The White House encouraged Republicans to adopt a series of messages created to turn the tables back on Democrats, including attacks on House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff's (D-Calif.) handling of the probe.

Democratic lawmakers emerging from her testimony declined to comment on what she said, but were generally praiseworthy.

If confirmed by the Senate, Sullivan would be the top US 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. "She's telling the truth, she's credible and she should not be penalized for that".

The former USA ambassador to Ukraine has told lawmakers she was sacked over "unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives".

Marie Yovanovitch, who was abruptly recalled as the USA envoy to Ukraine in May, appeared for a closed-door deposition, according to Democratic politicians leading the inquiry, after she had been told by the State Department at the behest of the White House not to show up.

"The harm will come when private interests circumvent professional diplomats for their own gain, not the public good", she said.

Trump has maintained he did nothing wrong in his dealings with Ukraine and has labelled the impeachment probe "garbage".

In the months leading up to Yovanovitch's removal, Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani and his associates aided in an apparent campaign to have her recalled.

"We will continue to talk to witnesses, not withstanding the administration's consistent efforts to obstruct our investigation", he added.

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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.

Earlier on Friday, Trump cast doubt over whether former Giuliani will long be representing him, when he said he "has been" his attorney.

In a deleted Facebook post also from May 9, 2018, Lev Parnas, one of the two businessmen charged with campaign finance violations on Thursday, posted two photos of himself with Sessions on Capitol Hill with the caption "Hard at work!" The indictment also alleges that the men leveraged a flurry of GOP political donations to force Yovanovitch's removal, an effort prosecutors say was aided by laundered foreign money. 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 US anti-corruption policy.

Yovanovitch is a career diplomat who previously served as a USA ambassador to Kyrgyzstan and Armenia.

The State Department issued a statement at the time that called Lutsenko's claim about the do-not-prosecute "an outright fabrication".

Speaking to House impeachment investigators behind closed doors, Yovanovitch said in her opening statements she never "directed, suggested, or in any other way asked for any government or government official in Ukraine ... to refrain from investigating or prosecuting actual corruption".

Mr Zelenskiy agreed with Mr Trump that she was a "bad ambassador" and agreed to investigate the Bidens.

The conversation occurred after Trump withheld $391 million in security assistance to Ukraine as it faces Russia-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country.

According to media reports, Trump took the action after complaints by his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and others that Yovanovitch had obstructed Giuliani's efforts to persuade Ukraine to investigate former us vice-president Joe Biden. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's senior advisor Michael McKinley just resigned, apparently at least partly because of his disappointment in the department's support for Yovanovitch and others caught up in the Ukraine scandal. "She always avoided attention because she thought it interfered with quiet diplomacy", one USA diplomat who worked with her earlier in her career said earlier this week.

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