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Former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch appeared Friday before the 3 House committees investigating President Trump and Ukraine and said the president pressured a top State Department official to oust her, according to her prepared remarks obtained by the Washington Post.

Why it matters: The Trump administration said it would block officials from appearing before the committees, but Yovanovitch's appearance coupled with U.S. ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland's planned testimony next week undermines its position. The AP notes that it's unclear whether Yovanovitch's appearance "signals a shift in that strategy or if she is breaking with White House policy."

Background: Trump replaced Yovanovitch in May in part because of former Ukrainian Prosecutor General Yuri Lutsenko's corruption allegations against former Vice President Joe Biden, according to the whistleblower.

What she's saying: In her closed-door deposition, Yovanovitch said she was accused by Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani of disparaging the president and trying to protect the interests of Biden and his son. Yovanovitch called those allegations "fictitious," on Friday.

  • “Contacts of Mr. Giuliani may well have believed that their personal financial ambitions were stymied by our anti-corruption policy in Ukraine,” Yovanovitch said.

Yovanovitch said, "Today, we see the State Department attacked and hollowed out from within." She added that she was let go by Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan, who said she had done nothing wrong, but that the president had "lost confidence" in her and the State Department had been under significant pressure to remove her since the summer of 2018.

"Although I understand that I served at the pleasure of the President, I was nevertheless incredulous that the U.S. government chose to remove an Ambassador based, as best as I can tell, on unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives."
— Marie Yovanovitch said in front of Congress

She also noted that her removal was “based, as far as I can tell, on unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives.”

The big picture: Though Yovanovitch's opening statement offered new details about her sudden exit from Kiev, it did not shed new light on Trump’s attempt to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Hunter Biden.

Go deeper ... Trump-Ukraine scandal: The key players, dates and documents

Go deeper

41 mins ago - World

Brazil senators vote to recommend criminal charges for Bolsonaro

Brazilian senators vote on probe into President Bolsonaro's handling of pandemic. Photo: Gustavo Minas/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A Brazilian Senate committee Tuesday voted to approve a report recommending President Jair Bolsonaro be charged with a raft of criminal indictments, including crimes against humanity over his response to the COVID-19 pandemic, per AP.

Why it matters: Bolsonaro has become the face of a right-wing approach to the pandemic that includes repudiating vaccines and masks and resisting lockdowns and other mitigation measures. The Senate report holds him personally responsible for half of the country's 600,000 deaths.

Former Georgetown tennis coach pleads guilty to accepting admissions bribes

Gordon Ernst (left) former head tennis coach at Georgetown, outside a courthouse in Boston in 2019. Photo: Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

A former Georgetown University head tennis coach has pleaded guilty Tuesday to bribery charges related to facilitating the admission of prospective applicants.

Why it matters: Gordon Ernst solicited and accepted bribes from William Singer, ringleader of the cheating scheme uncovered by Operation Varsity Blues, and families in exchange for helping prospective applicants get into Georgetown as student athletes, according to the Justice Department.

4 hours ago - Health

CDC says some immunocompromised people can get fourth COVID shot

Photo: Noriko Hayashi/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in updated guidelines Tuesday that some immunocompromised people who have received either Pfizer or Moderna's COVID-19 vaccines will be able to get a fourth shot.

Details: People over 18 who are "moderately to severely immunocompromised" and have received three doses of an mRNA vaccine may get a fourth shot (of either the Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson vaccines) at least six months after getting their third Pfizer or Moderna dose, per the CDC.