Top official to blame political considerations for lack of Ukraine ambassador's defense: report

Top official to blame political considerations for lack of Ukraine ambassador's defense: report
© Greg Nash

A top State Department official is expected to testify that political considerations were to blame for the department’s lack of a defense for former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, The Associated Press reported Wednesday.

David Hale, the third-ranking official in the department, reportedly intends to tell the House impeachment investigators on Wednesday that Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoProtests serve as backdrop to Erdoğan's visit to White House Chris Wallace: Taylor testimony 'very damaging to President Trump' The Hill's 12:30 Report: Democrats open televised impeachment hearings MORE and other leading department officials decided that defending Yovanovitch would damage the U.S.’s ability to provide military aid to Ukraine.

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The highest-ranking career diplomat in the foreign service will say department leaders also took into account concerns that protecting the ambassador would provoke President TrumpDonald John TrumpGOP senators balk at lengthy impeachment trial Warren goes local in race to build 2020 movement 2020 Democrats make play for veterans' votes MORE’s personal lawyer, Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiSenate GOP waves Trump off early motion to dismiss impeachment charges Key takeaways from first public impeachment hearing Diplomat ties Trump closer to Ukraine furor MORE, who advocated for her recall, the AP reported.

Unidentified sources told the news service that Hale would take efforts to remove himself from the debate over defending Yovanovitch by pulling out of email exchanges, including one in which a senior Pompeo adviser tried to persuade the secretary to stick up for Yovanovitch after the partial transcript of the phone call between Trump and Ukraine's president was released.

One source told the AP that Hale had “tried to take himself out of the loop on Ukraine,” while another said the official would back Pompeo’s decision to not defend the ambassador as “politically smart” for the department.

State Department counselor T. Ulrich Brechbuhl was also subpoenaed to testify on Wednesday in front of the House panels, but got on a plane with Pompeo heading to Germany in the morning, according to the news service.

Yovanovitch was removed from her position in May and told House impeachment investigators that Giuliani and others attempted to push her out, adding that she felt threatened. The transcript of her private testimony on Oct. 11 was released Monday.

The House’s impeachment inquiry began after reports circulated that the president asked the Ukrainian president to investigate former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenGOP senators balk at lengthy impeachment trial 2020 Democrats make play for veterans' votes 2020 Dems put focus on stemming veteran suicides MORE and his son days after withholding military aid to Kiev. The White House released a partial transcript of the July 25 phone call between the two leaders after it came under scrutiny.