Ex-US envoy to Ukraine claims Donald Trump urged her removal
Marie Yovanovitch is giving evidence to the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry into the US president.
Former US ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch has told a Capitol committee that the State Department was pressed by President Donald Trump to remove her from her position.
In her opening statement to the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry into Mr Trump, Ms Yovanovitch said she was “abruptly” recalled from her post in May and told the president had lost confidence in her.
She said she was told by an official there was a “concerted campaign against me”, and that Mr Trump had pressured officials to remove her for almost a year.
She said: “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.”
Ms Yovanovitch appeared on Capitol Hill on Friday for a deposition in the impeachment inquiry, accepting an invitation to testify despite Mr Trump’s declaration that no-one in his administration would co-operate with the probe.
She is now a State Department fellow at Georgetown University. It is unclear if her appearance signals a shift in Mr Trump’s strategy or if she is breaking with White House orders.
Democrats are investigating Mr Trump’s pleas to Ukrainian officials to launch investigations of political rival Joe Biden and his family and to probe Ukraine’s involvement in the 2016 presidential election.
Ms Yovanovitch was recalled from Kiev as Rudy Giuliani – who is Mr Trump’s personal lawyer and has no official role in the US government – pushed Ukrainian officials to investigate baseless corruption allegations against the Bidens.
She was removed from her post after insisting Mr Giuliani’s requests to Ukrainian officials for investigations be relayed through official channels, according to a former diplomat who has spoken with her.