Ex-Ukraine ambassador suggests Giuliani associates played role in her ouster

The former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine abruptly recalled from her post by President TrumpDonald John TrumpPence: It's not a "foregone conclusion" that lawmakers impeach Trump FBI identifies Pensacola shooter as Saudi Royal Saudi Air Force second lieutenant Trump calls Warren 'Pocahontas,' knocks wealth tax MORE earlier this year told Congress that she suspects Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiTrump: Giuliani to deliver report on Ukraine trip to Congress, Barr Trump denies report that he still uses personal cell phone for calls Giuliani draws attention with latest trip to Ukraine MORE pushed for her ouster on behalf of two of his associates who were arrested this week for an alleged foreign influence scheme.

Marie Yovanovitch testified privately before the committees leading the House impeachment inquiry on Friday, alleging that there was a “concerted campaign” to push for her firing. That campaign apparently included Giuliani who argued to the president that she had been disparaging toward him, according to The Wall Street Journal.

In testimony obtained by The New York Times and The Washington Post on Friday, Yovanovitch denied that she had been disloyal to the president and suggested that the campaign to have her removed was because of her anti-corruption efforts in Ukraine.

“I do not know Mr. Giuliani’s motives for attacking me,” Yovanovitch said. “But individuals who have been named in the press as contacts of Mr. Giuliani may well have believed that their personal financial ambitions were stymied by our anti-corruption policy in Ukraine.”

That’s an apparent reference to Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, two associate of Giuliani’s who were charged this week with multiple counts of conspiracy and campaign finance violations. They were alleged to have orchestrated a straw donor scheme in order to use campaign contributions to buy influence with elected officials.

Giuliani did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the former ambassador's testimony.

Federal prosecutors said one of their goals, at the behest of an unnamed Ukrainian government official, was to get Yovanovitch fired. Part of their effort apparently included pledging $20,000 in campaign funds to former Rep. Pete SessionsPeter Anderson SessionsTexas GOP rep predicts heavy Democratic presence in state ahead of 2020 Bottom Line The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Better Medicare Alliance - GOP snags mic with impeachment protest MORE (R-Texas) and asking him to push for Yovanovitch’s firing.

Sessions wrote a letter to the State Department last year calling for her ouster. In a statement on Thursday, he denied any wrongdoing and said that he had urged for Yovanovitch to be recalled because he heard that she had been “disparaging President Trump to others.”

"I have been friends with Rudy Giuliani for more than 30 years," Sessions said. "I do not know what his business or legal activities in Ukraine have been.”