Monday, 14 October, 2019

Trump's European Union ambassador to testify after Democrats' subpoena

Volodymyr Zelensky Enlarge Image Volodymyr Zelensky AP
Steven Clarke | 12 October, 2019, 16:14

A whistleblower complaint about Trump's involvement with Ukraine has led to an impeachment investigation.

Sondland was one of a handful of USA diplomats who facilitated Trump's interactions with Ukrainian leaders, according to a trove of text messages that former US special envoy Kurt Volker provided to House investigators last week.

Trump had told a rally on Thursday that Biden "was only a good vice president because he knew how to kiss (former President) Barack Obama's ass". Her decision to appear could trigger a wave of testimony by disaffected officials and the collapse of the administration's efforts to silence them.

"Although I understand that I served at the pleasure of the president, I was nevertheless incredulous that the US government chose to remove an ambassador based, as best as I can tell, on unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives", Yovanovitch testified.

Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky said during a "marathon" media session Thursday that he would "happily" investigate potential interference by Ukrainian and Democratic officials in the 2016 USA election, according to the Associated Press.

For the past several months, the Trump White House has pushed the authorities in Kyiv to investigate Burisma Group, a big gas-production company, and the role there of Hunter Biden, who served on its board, along with actions of Mr. Biden when he was overseeing US policy toward Ukraine.

Who is Marie Yovanovitch and why is she testifying?

She also expressed alarm over damage to United States diplomacy under Mr Trump and warned about "private interests" circumventing "professional diplomats for their own gain, not the public good".

Yovanovitch, who was recalled from her post in May after coming under attack from Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and other conservatives with unsubstantiated allegations that she tried to hold up anti-corruption efforts in the Ukraine, is still a member of the foreign service. Parnas, Fruman, and associates were arrested Wednesday evening on charges of campaign finance violations, including donating hundreds of thousands of dollars in foreign money to domestic Republican organizations.

Mark Ruffalo Slams Ellen DeGeneres' Comments About George W. Bush
As a result, she did a monologue on her show the following day calling on everyone to be unconditionally kind to one another. The former vegan used the example of how she doesn't approve of wearing fur, but is still friends with those who do.

"Look, you can try to contort anything into anything, but if they have any degree of objectivity or fairness, it would be kind of ridiculous to say I was doing it on Lutsenko's behalf when I was representing the President of the United States", Giuliani told the Times.

The decision to dismiss her several months earlier reportedly followed the USA president's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and other conservatives arguing she was biased against the president.

Giuliani does not deny pushing for Yovanovich's removal from Kyiv, but says that he did so at the behest of Trump, not of any foreign officials.

Going forward, two primary questions stand out: why were multiple people working to get rid of Marie Yovanovitch, and did Trump dismiss her while under this pressure?

"He also said that I had done nothing wrong and that this was not like other situations where he had recalled ambassadors for cause", she added.

Zelensky agreed with Trump that she was a "bad ambassador".

Yovanovitch did not respond to TIME's request for comment, and has shunned the news media as the Ukraine scandal has escalated.

She also was firm that she had never criticized the president in an unprofessional manner, or that she had done anything to disobey or ignore his orders. The State Department has reportedly ordered employees not to talk to Congress and last week, Trump blocked the European Union ambassador from giving congressional testimony.

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