Wednesday 13 November 2019

Diplomat 'was warned about Giuliani's involvement in Ukraine'

Obstacle: The panel will hear claims that Rudy Giuliani was a key voice with the president on Ukraine which could be an obstacle to increased White House. Photo: AP
Obstacle: The panel will hear claims that Rudy Giuliani was a key voice with the president on Ukraine which could be an obstacle to increased White House. Photo: AP

Eric Tucker

A State Department foreign service officer will tell impeachment investigators that former national security adviser John Bolton cautioned him that Rudy Giuliani "was a key voice with the president on Ukraine", which could complicate US goals in the Eastern European country.

The testimony from Christopher Anderson makes it clear that administration officials were concerned about Mr Giuliani's back-channel involvement in Ukraine policy, and his push for investigations of Democrats, even before the July 25 phone call between president Donald Trump and his Ukraine counterpart at the centre of the House impeachment inquiry.

Mr Anderson will describe a June meeting in which he said Mr Bolton expressed support for the administration's goals of strengthening energy co-operation between the US and Ukraine and getting new Ukraine leader Volodymyr Zelensky to undertake anti-corruption reforms.

"However, he cautioned that Mr Giuliani was a key voice with the president on Ukraine which could be an obstacle to increased White House engagement," Mr Anderson will say, according to a copy of his prepared remarks obtained by the Associated Press.

Mr Giuliani is Mr Trump's personal lawyer.

Another foreign service officer set to give evidence, Catherine Croft, will say that during her time at the National Security Council (NSC), she received multiple phone calls from lobbyist Robert Livingston telling her that the then ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, should be fired.

"He characterised Ambassador Yovanovitch as an 'Obama holdover' and associated with George Soros. It was not clear to me at the time - or now - at whose direction or at whose expense Mr Livingston was seeking the removal of Ambassador Yovanovitch," she will say.

Their testimony follows that of Alexander Vindman, an army officer with the National Security Council, who said that he twice raised concerns over the administration's push to have Ukraine investigate Democrats and Joe Biden.

Mr Vindman, a lieutenant colonel who served in Iraq and later as a diplomat, was the first official to testify who actually heard Mr Trump's July 25 call with Mr Zelensky.

He reported his concerns to the NSC's lead counsel.

Mr Vindman's arrival in military blue, with medals, created a striking image at the Capitol as the impeachment inquiry reached deeper into the White House. He testified for more than 10 hours.

"I was concerned by the call," Mr Vindman said, according to prepared remarks.

"I did not think it was proper to demand that a foreign government investigate a US citizen, and I was worried about the implications for the US government's support of Ukraine."

Mr Vindman, a 20-year military officer, added to the mounting evidence from other witnesses - diplomats, defence and former administration officials - who are corroborating the initial whistleblower's complaint against Mr Trump and providing new details ahead of a House vote in the impeachment inquiry.

With the administration directing staff not to appear, Mr Vindman was the first current White House official to testify before the panels.

Irish Independent

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