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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