Gi­u­liani pushed for dis­miss­ing Trump’s Ukraine am­bas­sador

Orlando Sentinel - - NATION & WORLD - By Jill Colvin

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.”

JABIN BOTS­FORD/WASHINGTON POST

Rudy Gi­u­liani bragged Mon­day on Fox News that he “forced” out Marie Yo­vanovitch “be­cause she’s cor­rupt.”

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