Dec 16, 2019

Rudy Giuliani: "I needed Yovanovitch out of the way"

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani told the New Yorker that he needed former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch "out of the way" because she was going to make the investigations of the Bidens and the 2016 election that he was pushing "difficult for everybody."

Why it matters: Yovanovitch was recalled by Trump in April after her reputation was publicly tarnished in articles by The Hill's John Solomon — a smear campaign that Giuliani admitted to coordinating.

The back story: After Yovanovitch testified in the House's impeachment inquiry, Trump attacked her on Twitter and on Fox News, accused her of badmouthing him, refusing to follow his orders and failing to hang a photo of him in the Ukrainian Embassy.

  • Yovanovitch has denied the allegations, telling the House in sworn testimony that the notion she was disloyal to Trump is "fictitious."
  • Every impeachment witness who has interacted with Yovanovitch told the House that she was a highly respected anti-corruption crusader, with many claiming she was unfairly smeared by Solomon and Giuliani.

The big picture: While digging in Ukraine for information that would benefit Trump, Giuliani met Yuriy Lutsenko, a former prosecutor general of Ukraine who resented Yovanovitch and baselessly accused her of giving him a “do not prosecute” list. Yovanovitch and several other witnesses said in their testimony that Lutsenko was widely viewed as corrupt.

  • In January 2019, Lutsenko met with Giuliani and fed him allegations against the Bidens that would eventually lead to the impeachment inquiry against Trump.
  • In a number of interviews, Lutsenko also provided Solomon with allegations about Yovanovitch that would eventually lead to Trump removing her from her post in Ukraine.

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Giuliani says Trump has been "very supportive" of his dirt-digging in Ukraine

Rudy Giuliani on Sept. 24. Photo: Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani told CNN in a phone interview that the president has been "very supportive" of his attempts to dig up damaging information on Democrats in Ukraine, but declined to say whether Trump personally directed his efforts.

The big picture: Giuliani dismissed reports that Attorney General Bill Barr has warned Trump that Giuliani had become a liability, telling CNN: "I haven't heard that from the President. I think he would tell me." Federal prosecutors in New York are currently scrutinizing Giuliani's foreign business dealings, including his ties to two men who assisted his efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate the Bidens and the 2016 election.

Go deeperArrowDec 17, 2019

Report: Bill Taylor, top diplomat in Ukraine, set to leave post next year

Taylor testifies on Nov. 13. Photo: Xinhua/Liu Jie via Getty Images

Acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor, who gave explosive testimony in the House impeachment inquiry, is expected to leave his position at the start of 2020, the New York Times and AP report.

Why it matters: Taylor was "one of the most senior State Department officials to openly challenge" White House plans to withhold $391 million in security aid to Ukraine, per the Times.

Go deeperArrowDec 17, 2019

Lindsey Graham warns Giuliani to make sure Ukraine dirt isn't Russian propaganda

Sen. Lindsey Graham. Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images. Rudy Giuliani. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) warned Rudy Giuliani in an interview with The Daily Beast to make sure that the information he has gathered about President Trump's opponents in Ukraine isn't Russian propaganda.

“He has not shared any of that information with me. My advice to Giuliani would be to share what he got from Ukraine with the IC [intelligence community] to make sure it’s not Russia propaganda. I’m very suspicious of what the Russians are up to all over the world.” 
Go deeperArrowDec 29, 2019