Oct 3, 2019

Giuliani: Recalled Ukraine ambassador was viewed as obstacle to Biden probe

Marie Yovanovitch. Photo: Maxym Marusenko/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Rudy Giuliani told the Wall Street Journal on Thursday that he considered former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch to be an obstacle to his efforts to push Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden, and that he informed President Trump of his concerns shortly before she was abruptly recalled in May 2019.

Why it matters: The whistleblower complaint at the heart of an impeachment inquiry into Trump claimed that Yovanovitch's ouster was one of the "circumstances" that led the whistleblower to believe Trump may have been abusing his power by soliciting foreign election interference. Yovanovitch is scheduled to appear in a deposition before the committees investigating Trump and Ukraine next Wednesday.

The big picture: Giuliani's efforts to oust Yovanovitch are well-documented. He told the Journal that he reminded Trump last spring about allegations that Yovanovitch displayed "anti-Trump bias" and that Trump "remembered he had a problem with her earlier and thought she had been dismissed."

  • Giuliani said he received a follow-up call from the White House asking for more specifics about Yovanovitch and that she was recalled shortly after.
  • He also told the Journal that he provided Secretary of State Mike Pompeo with documents about Yovanovitch's alleged "closeness" to Biden and that Pompeo told him he would investigate.
  • These documents were later flagged by the State Department inspector general, who briefed lawmakers on the "assorted news clippings and conspiratorial memos" on Wednesday.

In a statement after the briefing, the chairs of the House Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees said:

“The briefing and documents raise troubling questions about apparent efforts inside and outside the Trump Administration to target specific officials, including former Vice President Joe Biden's son and then-U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Masha Yovanovitch, who was abruptly removed as Ambassador in May after a sustained campaign against her by the President’s agent, Rudy Giuliani.
The documents provided by the Inspector General included a package of disinformation, debunked conspiracy theories, and baseless allegations in an envelope marked 'White House' and containing folders labeled 'Trump Hotel.' These documents also reinforce concern that the President and his allies sought to use the machinery of the State Department to further the President’s personal political interests."

Go deeper: Trump impeachment threat engulfs all corners of federal government

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Updates: George Floyd protests continue past curfews

Protesters on Tuesday evening by the metal fence recently erected outside the White House. Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

Protests over the death of George Floyd and other police-related killings of black people continued Tuesday night across the U.S. for the eighth consecutive day — prompting a federal response from the National Guard, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection.

The latest: Protesters were still out en masse for mostly after curfews were in force in cities including Washington, D.C., New York City, Los Angeles and Portland — where police used pepper spray and flash bangs on a group throwing projectiles at them during an "unlawful assembly," per KATU. Portland police said this group was separate to the thousands of demonstrators who protested peacefully elsewhere in the city.

Primary elections test impact of protests, coronavirus on voting

Election official at a polling place at McKinley Technology High School in Washington, D.C. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

In the midst of a global pandemic and national protests over the death of George Floyd, eight states and the District of Columbia held primary elections on Tuesday.

Why it matters: Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, needs to win 425 of the 479 delegates up for grabs in order to officially clinch the nomination. There are a number of key down-ballot races throughout the country as well, including a primary in Iowa that could determine the fate of Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa).

Iowa Rep. Steve King defeated in GOP primary

Rep. Steve King. Photo: Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images

State Sen. Randy Feenstra defeated incumbent Rep. Steve King in Tuesday's Republican primary for Iowa's 4th congressional district, according to the Cook Political Report.

Why it matters: King's history of racist remarks has made him one of the most controversial politicians in the country and a pariah within the Republican Party.