Top State Dept. official to testify politics prevented defense of Yovanovitch

Elias Hubbard
November 9, 2019

Hale, who arrived Wednesday morning to testify behind closed doors, will also say that the State Department anxious about the reaction from President Donald Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, also one of the strongest advocates for removing the ambassador.

But Ms Yovanovitch said she had been told by Ukrainian officials a year ago that Mr Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani was in touch with Ukraine's former top prosecutor Yuriy Lutsenko "and that they had plans, and that they were going to, you know, do things, including to me". While the Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan told her she had done nothing wrong, the president had lost confidence in her, according to Sullivan, after she was disparaged by Giuliani, his associates, and Ukraine's corrupt former prosecutor-general, who accused her of blocking an investigation into the Democratic Party, giving him a "do not prosecute" list, and badmouthing the president. The former prosecutor-general later walked back those claims.

Michael McKinley had spent decades as a diplomat when Pompeo asked him to be a senior adviser at State Department headquarters, but McKinley resigned after almost a year in the role, and just a week before testifying in the House's impeachment inquiry. "I just don't know much about her".

At a news conference in Germany, Pompeo denied discussing the issue with McKinley in May, after Marie Yovanovitch had been recalled from her posting in Kyiv, but appeared to evade the fact that McKinley's testimony referenced conversations between he and Pompeo in September. On all three occasions, according to the transcript of his deposition, he said he did not get a response from Pompeo.

That seemed to contradict what Pompeo told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos on "This Week" on October 20.

Ms Yovanovitch was recalled from Kiev before the July 25 phone call between Mr Trump and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky that is at the centre of the impeachment inquiry against the United States president.

"Nobody ever really said anything to me", he testified later.

Asked during a press conference why he never released such a statement, Pompeo instead denied the adviser's testimony.

"I clearly follow this a lot less than you do", Pompeo told reporters when asked about it the issue this week while on a visit to Germany.

McKinley said he ultimately heard that Pompeo would not be releasing a statement supporting Yovanovitch from a State Department press official.

"At the end of the day, Pompeo's audience is sitting in 1600 Pennsylvania and it's got to be hard when you see the president the vice president, the White House spokeswoman all attacking you and your leader does not speak up for you", Pifer said. He added that because McKinley's focus wasn't Ukraine "it shouldn't surprise anyone that in May when that took place, he didn't say a thing to me".

Last month, Pompeo told ABC News that McKinley never said a "single thing" about Yovanovitch to him.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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