A former ambassador to Ukraine, who was fired by the State Department in May, says her ouster came about not from poor job performance, but because President Donald Trump wanted her out of the position.
Marie Yovanovitch testified before Congress on Friday. The topic of her firing has become an issue that is of intrigue to House Democrats, as they continue their impeachment inquiry into the president’s actions in regards to Ukraine, the Washington Post reported.
Trump allegedly attempted to pressure Ukraine’s president to start an investigation into Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden, possibly withholding military aid funds for that nation in order to be more persuasive. The commander-in-chief has denied any wrongdoing.
Yovanovitch testified that her firing came from the second in command at the State Department, who assured her that she had done nothing wrong, but that the president lost confidence in her ability to fulfill the duties of the role as ambassador. For months preceding her termination, Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani had insinuated that she was privately criticizing the president behind closed doors, and stifling efforts to investigate Biden and his son.
Yovanovitch called those claims “unfounded and false,” spread by individuals “with clearly questionable motives.” She further suggested that Giuliani himself would have gained from her removal, as she was pushing an anti-corruption effort in her role.
BREAKING: Ousted ambassador Marie Yovanovitch tells Congress Trump pressured State Dept. to remove her
Said she was “incredulous that the US gov chose to remove an Ambassador based…on unfounded & false claims by people w/clearly questionable motives."https://t.co/Q4aFh0vYEX
— Rachael Bade (@rachaelmbade) October 11, 2019
“Contacts of Mr. Giuliani may well have believed that their personal financial ambitions were stymied by our anti-corruption policy in Ukraine,” she told Congressional investigators during her testimony.
Yovanovitch’s testimony came just one day after contacts of Giuliani’s were arrested. Before they were able to flee the country, two business associates of Giuliani’s were detained on Thursday for “conspiring to make contributions in connection with federal elections in the names of others, and with making false statements to and falsifying records to obstruct the administration of a matter within the jurisdiction of the Federal Election Commission,” Newsweek reported. Two other contacts of Giuliani’s were indicted as well.
All four face additional charges of conspiring “to violate the ban on foreign donations and contributions in connection with federal and state elections.”
Some of their actions related directly to Yovanovitch, according to Geoffrey Berman, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.
“They sought political influence not only to advance their own financial interests but to advance the political interests of at least one foreign official – a Ukrainian government official who sought the dismissal of the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine,” Berman said in a statement.