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

Marie Yovanovitch
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