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Pompeo to visit Ukraine this week with Senate impeachment trial looming

Mike Pompeo
Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will make his first trip to Ukraine this week to "reaffirm U.S. support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity” as the country works to end a six-year military conflict with Russian-backed separatists, according to the State Department.

Why it matters: Allegations that President Trump withheld desperately needed military aid to Ukraine to pressure its government to investigate his political rivals have led to his impeachment for abuse of power. The Senate is expected to hold a trial in January.

Between the lines: Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine who testified in the impeachment inquiry about his concerns over Trump's pressure campaign, has been instructed to leave his post in Kiev before his tenure expires, per AP.

  • The Wall Street Journal reports that Taylor is being made to leave his position shortly before Pompeo’s arrival so that the secretary can avoid meeting or being photographed with the ambassador.

The backdrop: Pompeo appointed Taylor as acting ambassador after Marie Yovanovitch was ousted from the post following a smear campaign led by the president's lawyer Rudy Giuliani and conservative columnist John Solomon.

  • Taylor’s tenure by law could have lasted until mid-January. His sudden departure has prompted complaints from lawmakers who say it could damage relations with Ukraine and send a poor message to career diplomats.

Go deeper: Ukraine, Russian-backed rebels swap prisoners in step toward ending war