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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Ben Sasse emerges as GOP Trump critic ahead of November

Sen. Ben Sasse walks to the Senate from the subway to vote in June. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images

Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) has dialed up his spicy slams of President Trump, including this swipe at yesterday's signing ceremony: "The pen-and-phone theory of executive lawmaking is unconstitutional slop."

Why it matters: Trump increasingly looks — to business and to fellow Republicans — like a loser in November. So they're more likely to create distance to save their own skins. Sasse also won his May primary, further freeing him.

Pelosi: "States don't have the money" for Trump's unemployment order

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi claimed on "Fox News Sunday" that states don't have the funds to comply with the executive order President Trump signed on Friday, which requires them to cover 25% of an additional $400 in weekly unemployment benefits.

Why it matters: Many state and local governments have had their budgets devastated by the economic impacts of the coronavirus, which have caused expenses to soar and revenues to plunge.

Kudlow says he regrets claiming Trump couldn't use executive order for unemployment

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday that he regrets suggesting this week that unemployment benefits can only be extended by Congress.

Why it matters: President Trump's decision to bypass Congress to sign four executive actions, including one that provides $400 per week in extra unemployment benefits, has prompted outcry from Democrats and even some Republicans who believe he is overstepping his constitutional authority.