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 PompeoGrassley: White House 'failed to address' if there was a 'good reason' for IG firings Overnight Defense: Pentagon watchdog sidelined by Trump resigns | Plan would reportedly bring troops in Afghanistan back by Election Day | Third service member dies from COVID-19 Ex-Pompeo staffers asked to sign letter against 'smear campaign' MORE and other leading department officials decided that defending Yovanovitch would damage the U.S.’s ability to provide military aid to Ukraine.

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 TrumpJustice says it will recommend Trump veto FISA bill Fauci: Nominating conventions may be able to go on as planned Poll: Biden leads Trump by 11 points nationally MORE’s personal lawyer, Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiSunday shows preview: States begin to reopen even as some areas in US see case counts increase Moussaoui says he now renounces terrorism, bin Laden Democrats launch probe into Trump's firing of State Department watchdog, Pompeo 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 BidenProsecutor investigating whether Tara Reade gave false testimony as expert witness Poll: Biden leads Trump by 11 points nationally George Floyd's sister says Minneapolis officers should be charged with murder 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.