Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani led a campaign of “lies and deceit” against a US diplomat the president had taken against, a senior state department official has told impeachment investigators.
George Kent, who has served as the top US diplomat for Ukraine, said Mr Giuliani sought to undermine Marie Yovanovitch, a US ambassador to the Kiev was who recalled from her post months earlier than scheduled.
In her own deposition last month to investigators, Ms Yovanovitch said she felt threatened by Mr Trump, and was aware that Mr Giuliani was trying to persuade Ukraine to launch an investigation into Joe Biden, his son, Hunter, and Burisma, the energy company that employed the younger Biden.
She said was told by an official in Ukraine that Mr Giuliani, and Yuriy Lutsenko, who at the time was Ukraine’s prosecutor general, were planning to “do things, including to me”.
In his deposition, Mr Kent said the campaign Mr Giuliani carried out against his fellow diplomat was based on untruths.
“His assertions and allegations against former ambassador Yovanovitch were without basis, untrue, period,” Mr Kent, told congressional investigators during a closed door session last month, the details of which were released on Thursday.
He said he learned about an interview Mr Giuliani gave to Ukrainian journalists in which we suggested Ms Yovanovitch was working against Mr Trump.
“Mr Giuliani, at that point, had been carrying on a campaign for several months full of lies and incorrect information about ambassador Yovanovitch, so this was a continuation of his campaign of lies,” he said.
Mr Kent, who currently serves as deputy assistant secretary for European and Eurasian affairs, also said he was told to “keep his head down”, after Mr Giuliani also attacked William Taylor, who currently serves as the most senior US diplomat in Ukraine, following the recall of Ms Yovanovitch.
He was asked whether he had any discussions with senior official at the state department about Mr Giuliani’s role.
“I did not, in part because after Giuliani attacked me, as well as ambassador Yovanovitch and the entire embassy, in his late May interview, I was told to keep my head down and lower my profile in Ukraine,” said Mr Kent, who referred to Mr Giuliani 73 times in his deposition. He said he believed that message was passed into him from under secretary of state David Hale.
Ukraine has leapt into the front of the public’s imagination after a whistleblower, believed to be a member of the US intelligence community, alleged that in a July 25 phone call with the country’s new leader, Mr Trump improperly sought a “quid pro quo” in exchange for close relations and the release of $400m of military assistance.
In particular, the whistleblower alleged, the president demanded an investigation into actions Republicans have accused of making as vice president, when he helped push out a Ukrainian prosecutor not considered to be taking on corruption.
Mr Biden has always denied any wrong doing over his actions as part of an international effort to get rid of a prosecutor who appeared to moving too slowly and there has never been any evidence to support it. Despite, this Republicans have leapt on the issue.
Mr Trump has denied any wrong doing, and said is conversation with president Volodymyr Zelensky was “beautiful”.
Yet Democrats believe the president’s actions were unconstitutional and have launched an impeachment probe.
It has been releasing transcripts of interviews witnesses face in private and next week it will hold its first public hearings. Mr Kent is due to be among the first individuals to appear.
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