Oct 30, 2019

Russian ambassador nominee says Giuliani had hand in Ukraine ambassador's removal

Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan, President Trump's nominee to become the next U.S. ambassador to Russia, testified during his Senate confirmation hearing on Wednesday that Rudy Giuliani was involved in the effort to oust former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.

  • During an exchange with Sen. Robert Menendez, the Senate Foreign Relation Committee's ranking Democrat, Sullivan confirmed he told Yovanovitch that she was being pulled out early from her position as ambassador.
  • Yovanovitch told the House committees involved in the Trump impeachment inquiry earlier this month that she was accused by Giuliani of disparaging the president and trying to protect the interests of Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.
  • Yovanovitch called those allegations "fictitious."

The exchanges:

MENENDEZ: What did you know about a shadow Ukraine policy being carried out by Rudy Giuliani?
SULLIVAN: My knowledge in the spring and summer of this year about any involvement of Mr. Giuliani was in connection with a campaign against our ambassador to Ukraine.
...
MENENDEZ: You were aware that there were individuals and forces outside the State Department seeking to smear Ambassador Yovanovitch?
SULLIVAN: I was.
MENENDEZ: And seeking to remove her?
SULLIVAN: I was.
MENENDEZ: And that Mr. Giuliani was one of those people?
SULLIVAN: I believe he was. Yes.

Go deeper: Giuliani: Recalled Ukraine ambassador was viewed as obstacle to Biden probe

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Trump says he will campaign against Lisa Murkowski after her support for Mattis

Trump with Barr and Meadows outside St. John's Episcopal church in Washington, D.C. on June 1. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump tweeted on Thursday that he would endorse "any candidate" with a pulse who runs against Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska).

Driving the news: Murkowski said on Thursday that she supported former defense secretary James Mattis' condemnation of Trump over his response to protests in the wake of George Floyd's killing. She described Mattis' statement as "true, honest, necessary and overdue," Politico's Andrew Desiderio reports.

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The president vs. the Pentagon

Trump visits Mattis and the Pentagon in 2018. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty

Over the course of just a few hours, President Trump was rebuffed by the Secretary of Defense over his call for troops in the streets and accused by James Mattis, his former Pentagon chief, of trampling the Constitution for political gain.

Why it matters: Current and former leaders of the U.S. military are drawing a line over Trump's demand for a militarized response to the protests and unrest that have swept the country over the killing of George Floyd by police.

New York Times says Tom Cotton op-ed did not meet standards

Photo: Avalon/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

A New York Times spokesperson said in a statement Thursday that the paper will be changing its editorial board processes after a Wednesday op-ed by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), which called for President Trump to "send in the troops" in order to quell violent protests, failed to meet its standards.

Why it matters: The shift comes after Times employees began a coordinated movement on social media on Wednesday and Thursday that argued that publishing the op-ed put black staff in danger. Cotton wrote that Trump should invoke the Insurrection Act in order to deploy the U.S. military against rioters that have overwhelmed police forces in cities across the country.