Gordon Sondland, ambassador quoted in Ukraine texts, to appear before House panel

Clay Curtis
October 12, 2019

In his call with Ukraine President Volodomyr Zelenskiy at the center of the impeachment inquiry, Trump called Yovanovitch "bad news".

Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney, a Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, appeared on CNN this afternoon after hearing from former US ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.

She said that she wasn't disloyal to Trump and that she had never been asked by President Barack Obama's administration to help the Clinton campaign or harm the Trump campaign.

It had been unclear right up until Yovanovitch arrived whether she would appear because she still works for the State Department.

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

Later, a State Department official told Yovanovitch she had done nothing wrong but that Trump pushed for her removal after a campaign to convince him she should go, she said. "T$3 he notion that I created or disseminated a "do not prosecute" list is completely false", said Yovanovitch.

The inquiry was launched after a whistleblower complaint from a person within the US intelligence community about a July 25 phone call, in which Trump pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate domestic political rival Biden and his son, Hunter Biden. He said USA officials have presented zero evidence of Ukraine's interference in 2016, but it's in his country's interests to find out once and for all what happened. She said Giuliani's associates "may well have believed that their personal financial ambitions were stymied by our anti-corruption policy in Ukraine".

A day earlier, USA prosecutors arrested two Florida businessmen tied to Giuliani, charging them with campaign finance violations. She left her post in May and was later told the president had lost confidence in her and had been pressuring State Department officials for many months to remove her, she said.

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

Trump's former top Russian Federation advisor Fiona Hill is scheduled to appear on Monday and Gordon Sondland, that ambassador Trump blocked from talking to Congress earlier this week, says he'll testify next week.

In an all-day "media marathon" held in a Kyiv food court, Ukraine's president played down suggestions that Trump pressured him in exchange for US military aid to help Ukraine battle Russian-backed separatists. "He added that there had been a concerted campaign against me", Ms Yovanovitch said.

Yovanovitch addresses point-by-point some of the charges that have been made against her, notably those from Giuliani. "And I don't know if I recalled her or somebody recalled her, but I heard very, very bad things about her for a long period of time".

Who else has been called to testify?

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

She also said she had only minimal contact with Giuliani and that the Bidens were never mentioned. Sondland participated in text messages about Washington's relationship with Ukraine with other top diplomats.

Meanwhile, former Vice President Biden has denied he or his son committed any wrongdoing, lashing out at a reporter when asked about the subject last week. "But we are concerned that Schiff is putting her a precarious position by having her testify in secret without State Department lawyers be present".

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