Impeachment Testimony Details Lobbyist Bid to Get U.S. Envoy to Ukraine Fired

U.S. foreign service officer Catherine Croft, who once served as a deputy to then-Special Envoy for Ukraine Kurt Volker, arrives to testify as part of the U.S. House of Representatives impeachment inquiry into U.S. President Trump led by the House Intelligence, House Foreign Affairs and House Oversight and Reform Committees on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., October 30, 2019. Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters

Last updated 10/30/2019 at 11:40 a.m. ET.

A Republican former congressman turned lobbyist repeatedly pushed for the dismissal of U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, an action later taken by President Donald Trump after he was urged to do so by his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, a U.S. diplomat said in testimony on Wednesday.

Catherine Croft and Christopher Anderson, Ukraine specialists at the State Department, became the latest current and former U.S. officials called as witnesses in the Democrat-led impeachment inquiry against the Republican president in the House of Representatives.

Croft said she was a member of the National Security Council (NSC) staff at the White House from July 2017 to July 2018.

“During my time at the NSC, I received multiple calls from lobbyist Robert Livingston, who told me that Ambassador Yovanovitch should be fired. He characterized Ambassador Yovanovitch as an ‘Obama holdover’ and associated with George Soros,” Croft said in her opening statement to lawmakers, posted online by the Washington Post.

“It was not clear to me at the time – or now – at whose direction or at whose expense Mr Livingston was seeking the removal of Ambassador Yovanovitch,” Croft said.

She said she told Fiona Hill, Trump’s former top Russia adviser, and George Kent, a senior State Department Ukraine expert, but was “not aware of any action that was taken in response.”

The impeachment inquiry focuses on a July 25 telephone call in which Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelenskiy to investigate political rival Joe Biden, the former U.S. vice president, and his son Hunter, who had served as a director for Ukrainian energy company Burisma.

Trump removed Yovanovitch as ambassador in May. Giuliani has said he went to Trump and the State Department as part of his effort to have her removed from the post at a time when he was seeking to persuade Ukraine to open an investigation of Biden, a contender for the Democratic nomination to face Trump in the November 2020 U.S. election.

Anderson, in his opening statement seen by Reuters, also mentioned Giuliani’s actions. Before Zelenskiy’s inauguration in May, Anderson said “my colleagues and I saw a tweet by Rudolph Giuliani” alleging that Ukraine’s incoming leader “was surrounded by enemies of President Trump.” Anderson said he sought to counter the “negative narrative” sparked by Yovanovitch’s removal and Giuliani’s statements.

Trump made his request to Zelenskiy after withholding $391 million in security aid approved by Congress to help Ukraine fight Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine. Zelenskiy agreed to Trump’s requests. The aid was later provided.

Anderson and Croft described Trump’s negative view toward Ukraine even as other State Department and White House officials underscored Kiev’s importance to U.S. national security in the face of Russian aggression.

STATEMENT CONDEMNING RUSSIA

Anderson said that in November 2018 Russia escalated the conflict when its forces attacked and seized Ukrainian military vessels heading to a Ukrainian port.

“While my colleagues at the State Department quickly prepared a statement condemning Russia for its escalation, senior officials in the White House blocked it from being issued,” Anderson said.

He said Kurt Volker, at the time the U.S. special representative for Ukraine, drafted a tweet condemning Russia’s actions, which he posted to his account.

“Russia’s aggression in Ukraine posed, and continues to pose, a real and immediate threat to our national interest in a Europe free, whole, and at peace,” Croft said.

She said “we do not lose sight of what is happening in Ukraine and its great promise as a prosperous and democratic member of the European community.”

Later on Wednesday, the House Rules Committee is scheduled to take up a resolution proposed by House Democrats laying out the procedures as they move forward with impeachment of Trump.

The closed-door testimony on Wednesday followed 10 hours of testimony on Tuesday by U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, an NSC Ukraine expert who raised the alarm after listening in on the July call between Trump and Zelenskiy over Trump’s request for a Biden investigation.

The call is at the heart of the congressional inquiry into whether Trump misused the power of his office for personal political gain and, if so, whether that rises to the level of “high crimes and misdemeanors” that merit impeachment and removal from office under the Constitution.

Trump has denied wrongdoing.

During the conversation, summarized in a memo released by the White House, Trump also sought an investigation into a debunked conspiracy theory that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in the 2016 U.S. election.

Vindman told lawmakers on Tuesday that the summary of the call released by the White House left out information he had sought to include, the New York Times reported.

The rough transcript left out an assertion by Trump that there were recordings of Biden discussing corruption in Ukraine and Zelenskiy’s explicit mention of Burisma, the Times said, citing three people familiar with his testimony.

More witnesses are expected later this week, including Timothy Morrison, the National Security Council Senior Director for Europe and Russia, on Thursday and Robert Blair, a senior adviser to acting White House chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, on Friday.

The House is expected to vote this week on the formal process of moving forward with the impeachment inquiry after Republicans criticized the process as unfair to Trump.

Trump has urged his allies to directly tackle the allegations against him.

“This Impeachment nonsense is just a continuation of the Witch Hunt Hoax,” he tweeted Wednesday morning, urging Republicans to “go with Substance and close it out!”

(Reporting by Susan Cornwell, Jonathan Landay, Susan Heavey, Patricia Zengerle and Mark Hosenball; Writing by Will Dunham, Editing by Timothy Heritage)

What do you think?

Comments

newest oldest most voted
Notify of
WellHungChad
Member

Forgive me* SyPhyllis, but I’ll believe the transcripts of Trump’s phone call, compiled by multiple witnesses who personally listened to the call, over the third hand account of the Democrat hack that colluded with Adam Schiff who gave his third hand account via traitor Alexander Vindeman and is the world’s most unanonymous “whistle blower” , Eric Ciaramella. Vindeman should be court martialled due his insubordination and collaboration with corrupt Ukrainian officials (who requested his assistance in dealing with US legal probes into their corruption) Conspiracies? Only in YOUR universe, sweet cheeks! * I wouldn’t really ask forgiveness from a TDS… Read more »

Phyllis Softa
Member

Charles and James, This is America. You are entitled to entertain yourself with wild conspiracies. When the POTUS and AG entertain themselves with conspiracies, it cost the country in national security and respect of other nations.

Phyllis Softa
Member

Charles, these would be two of your “unidentified witnesses.” Other IJR articles cater to those with short attention spans and do not require you to read the article to know the names. If you are able to read more than the headline, additional witnesses are also named in this article, i.e. George Kent Marie Yontanovich, Fiorna Hill and Kurt Volker.

Charles
Member

“During the conversation, summarized in a memo released by the White House, Trump also sought an investigation into a debunked conspiracy theory that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in the 2016 U.S. election.” That’s what the President asked for, information about election interference, something the Obama was unwilling to investigate. It seems the Democrats cried and called for an investigation into attempted meddling, right up until President Trump actually started investigating it. Then, it becomes a target for impeachment. The part of the call in reference to Biden is as follows: “There’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden… Read more »

Chet Brown
Member

They keep telling the lie that president Trump withheld aid to coerce an investigation. Nut question is, why do they call the traitor a whistleblower when it’s apparent that they told someone about a secret conversation? I have a top secret clearance and to my understanding the conversations that the president has with other heads of state are eyes only. Meaning only those immediately involved have access and that would be the president and who he spoke to along with the people he’s designated as having access. It’s not to be shared outside of that circle.

Millie Tyler
Member

“Anderson and Croft described Trump’s negative view toward Ukraine even as other State Department and White House officials underscored Kiev’s importance to U.S. national security in the face of Russian aggression.” What “negative view toward Ukraine” are you referring to that Anderson and Croft described? He doesn’t have a “negative view” toward Ukraine per se. The only negativity President Trump has shown in this instance is 1. toward corruption and 2. toward those nations who do not pay their fair share or give back in some way. That may be called quid pro quo but it’s not a bad thing… Read more »

Loading…

0

Comments

0 comments

Political Activist Runs for California Governor to Challenge Facebook’s False Ad Policy

Goldberg Chastises McCain for Interrupting Her as Segment on Vets Turns Into Shouting Match