Trump’s Ukraine phone call central to impeachment may have emboldened Putin, former ambassador says

Ex-president ‘showed the world’ he was willing ‘to trade our national security for personal and political gain’

Trump takes credit for missiles being sent to fight Russia in Ukraine
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Transcripts revealing Donald Trump’s attempts to withhold congressionally approved military aid from Ukraine during a 2019 phone call with Volodymyr Zelensky likely emboldened Vladimir Putin, according to a former US ambassador to Ukraine.

“I think it certainly plays a part. I think Putin saw how Trump viewed Ukraine … as a pawn,” Marie Yovanovitch told NBC’s Meet the Press on 13 March.

“The release of that transcript showed the world that we had an administration that was willing to trade our national security for personal and political gain,” she said.

The former president was impeached for the first time by the US House of Representatives following a congressional inquiry finding that Mr Trump sought to withhold military aid and an invitation to the White House in exchange for President Zelensky’s announcement of an investigation into his political opponent Joe Biden, and to promote a conspiracy theory that Ukraine – not Russia – interfered in 2016 elections.

Earlier this week, she said that the former president’s actions showed his Russian counterpart and authoritarian leaders that he was “ready to use our national security for his own personal and political gain”.

“I think that really undermined our national security and our abilities to move forward when people could see the president of the United States was ready to not be acting in the interests of the nation, but in his own personal interests,” she told The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

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Ms Yovanovitch, who had served across Republican and Democratic administrations, was targeted as part of a smear campaign by the former president’s allies, and she was abruptly recalled from her post following allegations from Rudy Giuliani and others that she sought to undermine the Trump administration’s efforts to persuade Ukraine officials to target Mr Biden and his son Hunter.

She was terminated from the position two months before Mr Trump’s call with Mr Zelensky.

She later testified to Congress that her removal was motivated by “unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives.”

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