Trump impeachment: Giuliani admits he wanted ousted Ukraine envoy ‘out of the way’

Marie Yovanovitch says she was ‘kneecapped’ by president’s personal lawyer

Andrew Buncombe
Tuesday 17 December 2019 01:28 GMT
Marie Yovanovitch receives standing ovation after Donald Trump attacks her amid impeachment testimony

Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, accused of ending the career of a US diplomat because her presence in Ukraine interfered with his private, allegedly inappropriate outreach, has admitted he wanted her “out of the way”.

During testimony before Congress last month, Marie Yovanovitch claimed the former New York city mayor was behind a “campaign of disinformation” that led to her being recalled early from Kiev, and said he had “kneecapped her”.

“I do not understand Mr Giuliani’s motives for attacking me, not can I offer an opinion on whether he believed the allegations he spread about me,” she told the House Intelligence Committee.

Now, Mr Giuliani has admitted he sought the return to the US of Ms Yovanovitch, as he believed her presence in the Ukraine got in the way of his efforts to press officials to launch an investigation into Joe Biden, one of Mr Trump’s potential challengers in 2020.

“I believed that I needed Yovanovitch out of the way,” Mr Giuliani told the New Yorker. “She was going to make the investigations difficult for everybody.”

The admission was published just hours before the House of Representatives was set to vote, largely on party lines, to censure Mr Trump on two articles of impeachment – one relating to the abuse of his position, and the second to his obstruction of Congress.

The impeachment investigation followed claims first made by a whistleblower, that Mr Trump sought a quid pro quo in a July 25 phone call with Ukraine’s newly elected leader, for the provision of military aid and a visit to Washington DC.

The “favour” asked by Mr Trump of Volodymyr Zelensky, was to launch an investigation into Mr Biden, and his son, amid claims from Republicans the former vice president had improperly used his position to get rid of a prosecutor who allegedly represented a threat to the company Mr Biden’s son was employed by. There is no evidence of wrongdoing by Mr Biden.

Republican Will Hurd commends Yovanovitch for her service as an ambassador

During his conversation with Mr Zelensky, Mr Trump referred to Ms Yovanovitch without naming her.

“The former ambassador from the United States, the woman, was bad news and the people she was dealing with in the Ukraine were bad news so I just wanted to let you know that,” he said. “Well, she’s going to go through some things. I will have Mr. Giuliani give you a call and I am also going to have attorney general [William] Barr call and we will get to the bottom of it.”

On Monday, as Democrats laid out their case against Mr Trump, the president was asked how much Mr Giuliani had told him about a trip he made to Ukraine just last week.

“Not too much,” he said, according to CNN. “He’s a great person who loves our country and he does this out of love, believe me. He does it out of love. He sees what goes on. He sees what’s happening. He sees all of the hoax that happens when they talk about impeachment hoax or the Russian collusion delusion and he sees it.”

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