Jeanine Santucci, USA TODAY
Published 7: 49 p.m. ET Dec. 17, 2019 | Updated 11: 33 a.m. ET Dec. 18, 2019
President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani said that he “forced” former Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch out of her role and leveled another round of allegations against the ousted diplomat in a series of recent interviews.
Speaking to multiple media outlets over the last few days, Giuliani shed light on his influence in removing Yovanovitch, who was recalled from her post after she was targeted by what impeachment witnesses described as a “smear campaign.”
Giuliani told The New Yorker in a November interview published Monday that he believed Yovanovitch was in the way of his attempts to pursue investigations Trump wanted.
The president is accused of putting pressure on Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to open investigations into 2020 frontrunner and former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, who had ties to a Ukrainian company. Two articles of impeachment on abuse of power and obstruction of Congress are up for a House vote this week.
Marie Yovanovitch: A symbol of State Department resistance to Trump in impeachment inquiry
“I believed that I needed Yovanovitch out of the way,” Giuliani is reported to have said. “She was going to make the investigations difficult for everybody.”
The revelation adds credence to the narrative of what Democrats believe took place in Ukraine: Giuliani attacked Yovanovitch in the media in an effort to discredit and remove her, clearing the way for him to pursue investigations into the Bidens and the 2016 election.
But Giuliani sharply backtracked Monday evening in an interview on Fox News, saying that Yovanovitch “was acting corruptly in that position and had to be removed.” Giuliani claimed to have evidence, without providing it, that Yovanovitch made an untrue statement in her testimony before Congress.
“I didn’t need her out of the way. I forced her out because she’s corrupt,” Giuliani said to Fox News’ Laura Ingraham, doubling down on his role in ousting her but denying she presented an obstacle. “She should’ve been fired if the State Department weren’t part of the deep state.”
“She at minimum enabled Ukrainian collusion,” Giuliani tweeted Tuesday about Yovanovitch.
Giuliani said Yovanovitch orchestrated the denial of a visa to former Ukraine prosecutor Viktor Shokin, who was pushed out of his role during Biden’s time in office because of the view he was not tough on corruption cases.
Testimony in the impeachment inquiry given by George Kent, an official within the State Department, reveals that the agency’s reason for denying a visa was that Shokin was seen as corrupt and had wasted U.S. dollars.Kent said Shokin’s trip to the U.S. was meant to spread a rumor that the U.S. embassy in Kiev was corrupt.
Yovanovitch concurred in her own testimony, and said Shokin had lied on his visa application by saying he was traveling to visit children.
“Knowing Mr. Shokin, I had full faith that it was a bunch of hooey, and he was looking to basically engage in a con game out of revenge because he’d lost his job,” Kent said.
Yovanovitch needed to be removed for many reasons most critical she was denying visas to Ukrainians who wanted to come to US and explain Dem corruption in Ukraine. She was OBSTRUCTING JUSTICE and that’s not the only thing she was doing. She at minimum enabled Ukrainian collusion.
— Rudy Giuliani (@RudyGiuliani) December 17, 2019
Speaking to The New York Times on Monday, Giuliani said he briefed the president about knowledge he says he gained about Yovanovitch, and said his information may have influenced the decision to pull her out of Ukraine: “You’d have to ask [Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo]. But they relied on it.”
“I think I had pointed out to the president a couple of times, I reported to the president, what I had learned about the visa denials,” Giuliani said. “I may or may not have passed along the general gossip that the embassy was considered to be a kind of out-of-control politically partisan embassy, but that was, like, general gossip, I didn’t report that as fact.”
Giuliani told CNN Tuesday that he and Trump are “on the same page” when it comes to his actions in Ukraine, but wouldn’t say what Trump’s involvement was in Giuliani’s recent trip to Ukraine during the impeachment inquiry, when he says he gathered evidence on Yovanovitch.
Trump said Monday that Giuliani had not told him much about his most recent trip to Ukraine, but said his attorney “knows what he’s doing.”
“He’s a great person who loves our country and he does this out of love, believe me,” Trump said of Giuliani.
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