Oct 27, 2019

State official testifies he was disturbed by effort to oust Ukraine ambassador

Philip Reeker, US Embassy in Iraq spokesman, speaks during a press conference in 2007. Photo: Khaled Mohammed/AFP via Getty Images

Philip Reeker, the acting assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, told House impeachment investigators Saturday that top State Department officials overruled his attempted defense of Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The big picture: The House Intelligence Committee subpoenaed Reeker after the State Department directed him not to attend his Saturday deposition. Reeker is one of several Trump administration officials to testify that he was disturbed by Rudy Giuliani's involvement in Ukraine policy and by the State Department leadership's lack of support for Yovanovitch.

Context: President Trump ordered Yovanovitch's removal in March, after Giuliani, the president's personal lawyer, argued that she was talking badly about the president and was obstructing efforts to persuade Kiev to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter.

  • Around the same time, Reeker was named to his current role. He testified that he endorsed efforts by some officials in the department to issue statements supporting Yovanovitch, but the statements were blocked from being released, AP reports.

Reeker said he also became troubled during a White House meeting in which Laura Cooper, deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia, raised concern over the freezing of congressionally approved Ukraine aid.

Go deeper: EU ambassador told House panels Trump's Ukraine action was quid pro quo

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Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

The CDC is warning of potentially "aggressive rodent behavior" amid a rise in reports of rat activity in several areas, as the animals search further for food while Americans stay home more during the coronavirus pandemic.

By the numbers: More than 97,700 people have died from COVID-19 and over 1.6 million have tested positive in the U.S. Over 366,700 Americans have recovered and more than 14.1 million tests have been conducted.

World coronavirus updates

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Japan's economy minister outlined plans on Monday to end the nationwide state of emergency as the number of new novel coronavirus cases continues to decline to fewer than 50 a day, per Bloomberg. Japan has reported 16,550 cases and 820 deaths.

By the numbers: Over 5.4 million people have tested positive for the virus as of Monday, and more than 2.1 million have recovered. The U.S. has reported the most cases in the world (over 1.6 million from 13.7 million tests). The U.K. is reporting over 36,800 deaths from the coronavirus — the most fatalities outside the U.S.