Trump ordered Ukraine ambassador removal at the advice of Rudy Giuliani.
President Donald Trump personally ordered the removal of the US Ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, in May, after people close to him claimed that she was impeding efforts to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.
Marie Yovanovitch, a 33-year veteran of the State Department, had been working as the US Ambassador to Ukraine since 2016. She was recalled from service in May 2019, three months ahead of the customary term of service for a foreign diplomat.
A whistleblower complaint flagged Yovanovitch’s removal from her post as troubling. The complaint was lodged by an intelligence official in August, and alleged that Trump abused his power “for personal gain” during a July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. It has become the focal point of an impeachment inquiry launched by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi last week.
A person familiar with the matter told The Journal that withdrawing Yovanovitch from her post was a “priority for the president.” A White House official told The Journal that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was in favor of the move.
Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani told The Journal that he advised the president that there were complaints among his supporters that Yovanovitch privately harbored an “anti-Trump bias.”
Giuliani added that upon mentioning Yovanovitch to Trump earlier this year, Trump “remembered he had a problem with her earlier and thought she had been dismissed.” Giuliani told The Journal that a White House official called him asking him to list concerns about Yovanovitch, which he detailed in a nine-page document to Pompeo.
Giuliani said Pompeo told him that “they were going to investigate” the claims made in the letter, and requested additional documents to support allegations.
On Thursday, Trump told reporters that he couldn’t remember if he removed Yovanovitch from her post.
“I heard very bad things about her,” he said. “And I don’t know if I recalled her or somebody recalled her, but I heard very, very bad things about her for a long period of time. Not good.”
Yovanovitch is slated to testify before House lawmakers next week as part of the impeachment inquiry.
Trump has denied any wrongdoing and described his phone call with Zelensky as ” perfect. ”