Yovanovitch says she felt threatened by Trump raising her on call with Ukraine

Former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch told House investigators that she felt shocked and threatened when she saw that President Trump had criticized her during a July 25 phone call with Ukraine’s president.

Yovanovitch was asked during her closed-door deposition on Oct. 11 what she thought about Trump calling her “bad news” during the call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. 

{mosads}“I hate to be repetitive, but I was shocked. I mean, I was very surprised that President Trump would — first of all, that I would feature repeatedly in a presidential phone call, but secondly, that the president would speak about me or any ambassador in that way to a foreign counterpart,” Yovanovitch told three House committees, according to a transcript of her closed-door testimony released Monday.

Asked what she thought Trump meant when he told Zelensky that she was “going to go through some things,” Yovanovitch replied that she didn’t know but that it concerned her.

When asked whether she felt threatened, she replied, “Yes.”  

Yovanovitch, who had been recalled from her post in the spring, said she first became aware of the contents of the call the day it was made public, Sept. 24, but that she learned Trump had asked Zelensky for some kind of assistance “in passing” from conversations with State Department official George Kent.

According to the rough transcript released by the White House, Trump suggested Zelensky look into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden’s business dealings with a Ukrainian gas company, Burisma.

Yovanovitch told lawmakers she understood Trump to be encouraging Zelensky to conduct an investigation that involved looking into Hunter Biden on the July 25 call and that she was “surprised and dismayed” in reading his requests.

She said normal protocol would be for such requests to go through the Department of Justice.

Trump also raised Yovanovitch on the call, describing her as “bad news.”

{mossecondads}“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 want to let you know that,” Trump told Zelensky, according to the White House transcript. Zelensky told Trump that he agreed Yovanovitch was a “bad ambassador.”

During the call, Trump also expressed dismay at the removal of Ukrainian prosecutor Yuriy Lutsenko. But according to Yovanovitch, Lutsenko’s dismissal had been viewed positively by State Department officials.

Yovanovitch testified last month before the three House committees leading the impeachment inquiry, telling lawmakers that Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, and his allies had initiated a campaign against her. She said she believed those working for Giuliani thought their personal financial interests were being harmed by her anti-corruption efforts in Ukraine.

Yovanovitch said she was abruptly recalled from her post in April and that Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan told her at the time that Trump had lost confidence in her and wanted her removed as the top U.S. diplomat in Kiev.

Asked about Yovanovitch on Monday, Trump told reporters he didn’t know her but pointed to Zelensky’s critical comments about her on the call. 

“I really don’t know her,” Trump told reporters at the White House before departing for a campaign rally in Lexington, Ky.

“But if you look at the transcript, the president of Ukraine was not a fan of her’s either. He did not exactly say glowing things,” Trump continued. “I’m sure she’s a very fine woman, I just don’t know much about her.” 

According to the full transcript of Yovanovitch’s testimony released Monday, she said she first learned of Giuliani’s efforts to target her in late 2018 from Ukrainian officials.

“Basically, it was people in the Ukrainian government who said that Mr. Lutsenko, the former prosecutor general, was in communication with Mayor Giuliani, and that they had plans, and that they were going to, you know, do things, including to me,” Yovanovitch told the committees.

Sullivan corroborated aspects of Yovanovitch’s account last week at his Senate confirmation hearing to serve as the U.S. ambassador to Russia, saying Giuliani had been part of a campaign to oust her.

“My knowledge in the spring and summer of this year about any involvement of Mr. Giuliani was in connection with a campaign against our ambassador to Ukraine,” Sullivan testified. He also said Yovanovitch had been removed because Trump lost confidence in her but that he was not given a specific reason for that.

Giuliani later fired back at Sullivan, claiming he “doesn’t know what he’s talking about” and was merely “speculating.”

The impeachment inquiry is centered on Trump’s call with Zelensky, as well as Giuliani’s efforts to push for investigations by Ukraine into the Bidens and 2016 election interference.

Yovanovitch is one of several current and former officials who have testified behind closed doors in connection with the inquiry and, according to portions of their testimony or reports about their depositions, expressed concerns about a separate channel of U.S. policy toward Ukraine involving Giuliani.

Updated at 5:08 p.m.

Tags Donald Trump Impeachment Joe Biden Rudy Giuliani Ukraine
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