Giuliani pushed for dismissing Trump’s Ukraine ambassador
WASHINGTON — Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal attorney, is now openly admitting that he pushed President Donald Trump to dismiss the former ambassador to Ukraine — a key factor in the Democrats’ impeachment case against his boss.
In a series of interviews ahead of Wednesday’s historic impeachment vote by the House of Representatives, Giuliani bragged that he “forced” out Marie Yovanovitch and provided the president with information allegedly showing that she impeded investigations that could have benefited Trump politically.
Within weeks, she was recalled from her post.
The admission from Giuliani, who does not work for the U.S. government, is the latest example of his highly unusual meddling in official diplomatic channels. It also underscores his ongoing efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate Trump’s political rivals — the very pressure campaign the House is poised to impeach Trump for later this week.
“I forced her out because she’s corrupt,” Giuliani said in an interview with Fox News late Monday, offering his most unabashed claims of responsibility yet.
Yovanovitch, a respected career diplomat, had been pressing the Ukrainian government to address longstanding concerns by the U.S. and others about corruption.
Giuliani’s comments come as Trump is facing near-certain impeachment by the House for abuse of power over his administration’s efforts to pressure Ukraine to announce investigations, including one into former vice president and 2020 candidate Joe Biden and his son’s dealings in Ukraine. The push came as Trump’s administration was withholding crucial security aid from the Eastern European nation that was needed to counter Russian aggression.
Trump maintains he did nothing wrong.
As part of his ongoing campaign on Trump’s behalf, Giuliani recently traveled to Kyiv, Budapest and Vienna to gather additional evidence he claims bolsters debunked theories. All the while, Republicans in Congress have largely turned a blind eye to Giuliani’s efforts. And White House officials, weary of Giuliani’s influence with the president, have tried to tread carefully, distancing themselves from the former New York City mayor without openly criticizing him.
In an interview with The New York Times on Monday evening, Giuliani portrayed himself as directly involved in the effort to oust Yovanovitch. He said he’d passed information to Trump “a couple of times” allegedly showing that Yovanovitch was impeding investigations in Ukraine that could benefit Trump politically, including the push to have Ukraine investigate the Biden family and other Democrats.
Trump, in turn, passed the information on to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, according to Giuliani. Within weeks, Yovanovitch was told Trump had lost trust in her and was recalled to the U.S.
Giuliani said Trump and Pompeo had “relied on” his information as they considered Yovanovitch’s future, including a charge that she blocked visas for Ukrainian prosecutors to come to the United States to present evidence that Giuliani claimed could be damaging to Biden and his son Hunter, who served on the board of a Ukrainian gas company.
Testimony in the Trump impeachment inquiry has shown accusations against Yovanovitch were either unsubstantiated or taken out of context.
On Fox, Giuliani further claimed that Yovanovitch “committed perjury” when she testified that she turned down a prosecutor’s visa requests because he was corrupt.
Yovanovitch, testifying in October in defiance of Trump, described a “concerted campaign” against her based on “unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives.”
Rudy Giuliani bragged Monday on Fox News that he “forced” out Marie Yovanovitch “because she’s corrupt.”