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Ukrainians used Giuliani to in effort to oust US ambassador, State Department official says

Billy House, Bloomberg News on

Published in News & Features

Lutsenko resigned under pressure from Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in August.

Kent also testified about acting white house chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney's designation of a three-person team -- then-Special Envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker, Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland and Energy Secretary Rick Perry -- to help Giuliani in this shadow diplomacy effort. Kent recalled these three came to call themselves as the "three amigos."

Sondland was one of the leading figures pushing for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to give a public statement confirming the investigations Giuliani sought, according to Kent's testimony.

"I think the anticipation or the hope was that sending that signal would clear the way for both the White House visit as well as the resumption or the clearing of the administrative hold on security assistance," Kent said.

Kent was one of the career State Department officials who tried to shield Yovanovitch in March from what he viewed as a Giuliani-led campaign to discredit her.

Kent said Giuliani's "assertions and allegations against former Ambassador Yovanovitch were without basis, untrue, period," according to the transcript.

Kent noted that was the same day Parnas and Fruman met with Sessions, the then-House Rules Committee chairman, "wrote a letter to Secretary Pompeo impugning Ambassador Yovanovitch's loyalty and suggesting that she be removed."

"And others also in 2018 were engaged in an effort to undermine her standing by claiming that she was disloyal," Kent told the committees.

Texts of emails given to Congress, obtained by Bloomberg, show that Kent, along with Acting Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs Phil Reeker, sought to provide department counselor Ulrich Brechbuhl and Undersecretary for Political Affairs David Hale with facts to counter conspiracy claims being pushed about Yovanovitch.

 

Yovanovitch, in her own testimony on Oct. 11 to the impeachment panels, said she was told there had been a concerted campaign to remove her -- and that Giuliani was involved.

"I do not know Mr. Giuliani's motives for attacking me. But individuals who have been named in the press as contacts of Mr. Giuliani may well have believed that their personal financial ambitions were stymied by our anti-corruption policy in Ukraine," she said, in prepared opening remarks, released publicly.

Yovanovitch is also scheduled to testify in a public hearing Nov. 15.

(Nick Wadhams contributed to this report.)

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