State De­part­ment of­fi­cial tells of Gi­u­liani scheme

Lodi News-Sentinel - - SPORTS - By Billy House

WASH­ING­TON — Ukrainian of­fi­cials seek­ing “re­venge” against the U.S. am­bas­sador in Kyiv used Rudy Gi­u­liani, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s per­sonal lawyer, to or­ches­trate a dis­in­for­ma­tion cam­paign that led to her ouster, a State De­part­ment of­fi­cial told the House im­peach­ment in­quiry.

The tran­script of Ge­orge Kent’s Oct. 15 closed-door de­po­si­tion also shows his con­cern about Gi­u­liani’s role guid­ing White House pri­or­i­ties, which in­cluded push­ing for an in­ves­ti­ga­tion of a Ukraine com­pany connected to the son of a po­ten­tial 2020 pres­i­den­tial ri­val, former Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Bi­den.

Kent, the deputy as­sis­tant sec­re­tary in the State De­part­ment’s Eu­ro­pean and Eurasian Bu­reau, said the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion had two points of lever­age for that de­mand: an Oval Of­fice meet­ing for the newly elected Ukrainian pres­i­dent and mil­i­tary aid au­tho­rized by Congress.

Kent said he wrote a memo in Au­gust not­ing “con­cerns that there was an ef­fort to ini­ti­ate po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated pros­e­cu­tions that were in­ju­ri­ous to the rule of law, both Ukraine and the U.S.”

Part of that in­cluded Gi­u­liani en­gag­ing in a cam­paign “full of lies and in­cor­rect in­for­ma­tion” about then-U.S. Am­bas­sador to Ukraine Marie Yo­vanovitch, who was re­moved in May.

Kent has emerged as a top wit­ness for House Democrats in their im­peach­ment in­quiry against Trump. He is al­ready sched­uled to be one of the two wit­nesses in the first open im­peach­ment hear­ing held by the House In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee on Wed­nes­day.

Kent de­scribed an orches­trated cam­paign against Yo­vanovitch that in­cluded two of Gi­u­liani’s busi­ness as­so­ciates, Lev Par­nas and Igor Fru­man, who sub­se­quently were charged in the U.S. with il­le­gally fun­nel­ing hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars to U.S. of­fi­cials and a po­lit­i­cal ac­tion com­mit­tee that backed Trump.

Par­nas and Fru­man “started reach­ing out ac­tively to un­der­mine Am­bas­sador Yo­vanovitch, start­ing in 2018 with a meet­ing with former Con­gress­man Pete Ses­sions on May 9th, 2018,” Kent said, ac­cord­ing to the tran­script.

Also in­volved in the ef­fort was the then-pros­e­cu­tor gen­eral of Ukraine, Yuriy Lut­senko, who was un­der pres­sure from the U.S. State De­part­ment for “es­sen­tially col­lud­ing with a cor­rupt of­fi­cial to un­der­mine the in­ves­ti­ga­tion” into a ring that was sell­ing fake Ukrainian pass­ports, ac­cord­ing to Kent.

Lut­senko “vowed re­venge, and pro­vided in­for­ma­tion” to Gi­u­liani “in hopes that he would spread it and lead to her re­moval,” Kent said, re­fer­ring to Yo­vanovitch. He said Ukraine In­te­rior Min­is­ter Arsen Avakov told him that Lut­senko had made a pri­vate trip to New York to meet with Gi­u­liani “to throw mud” at Yo­vanovitch and oth­ers in the State De­part­ment.

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