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marie yovanovitch

State department official David Holmes has said at the impeachment inquiry that a US diplomat told Donald Trump Ukraine would carry out investigations the president had asked for.

David Holmes said he had overheard this during a call in July between President Trump and the US envoy to the EU, Gordon Sondland.

He said the call came a day after President Trump asked Ukraine to probe ex-VP Joe Biden.

President Trump has dismissed the impeachment inquiry as “presidential harassment”.

The inquiry is investigating whether Donald Trump withheld US military aid to Ukraine in order to pressure the country’s new President Volodymyr Zelensky to announce a corruption inquiry into Joe Biden, now his rival for the presidency.

Trump Impeachment Hearings: Ambassador Bill Taylor’s Testimony Draws Direct Line to Donald Trump

President Trump Impeachment: Marie Yovanovitch Testifies Before Congress

On November 15, President Trump launched a Twitter attack on another witness – former US ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.

He tweeted in the middle of her testimony: “Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad.

“She started off in Somalia, how did that go?”

Asked for her response, Marie Yovanovitch called it “very intimidating”.

President Trump later hit back, arguing his tweets were not intimidating “at all”. He told reporters he had watched part of the impeachment hearing and considered it “a disgrace”.

David Holmes testified behind closed doors before us lawmakers in Washington DC.

The diplomatic aid said he had overheard the phone call between President Trump and Ambassador Sondland in which “investigations” are said to have been discussed.

He said Gordon Sondland called President Trump from a restaurant in Ukraine’s capital Kyiv on July 26, 2019.

According to a copy of his opening statement obtained by CBS News, David Holmes said: “Sondland told Trump that [Ukrainian President] Zelensky ‘loves your ass.'”

“I then heard President Trump ask, ‘So, he’s gonna do the investigation?’

“Ambassador Sondland replied that ‘he’s gonna do it’, adding that President Zelensky will do ‘anything you ask him to’.”

Observers have drawn attention to the security implications of making the call from a restaurant, potentially exposing the conversation to eavesdropping by Russian intelligence.

David Holmes’ deposition appears to corroborate the testimony given to the impeachment inquiry by US ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor on November 13.

Bill Taylor said one of his aides heard the same chat.

The aide said President Trump had asked about “investigations” and Gordon Sondland had replied that Ukraine was ready to move forward.

According to Bill Taylor, Gordon Sondland then told the aide that the president cared more about the investigation of the Bidens than anything else involving Ukraine.

The call – which Donald Trump has denied any knowledge of – allegedly happened the day after the now-famous Trump-Zelensky phone call.

While giving her evidence, Marie Yovanovitch was alerted to the president’s criticism by the hearing’s chairman Adam Schiff.

Responding directly to Donald Trump’s tweet, in which he appeared to blame her for upheaval in Somalia, Marie Yovanovitch replied: “I don’t think I have such powers, not in Mogadishu and Somalia and not in other places.

“I actually think that where I’ve served over the years I and others have demonstrably made things better, you know, for the US as well as for the countries that I’ve served in.”

Marie Yovanovitch’s response was broadcast live during the televised hearing.

Adam Schiff, the Democratic Chairman of the Intelligence Committee overseeing the impeachment inquiry, suggested the president’s tweets could be classed as witness intimidation.

Marie Yovanovitch was removed as ambassador to Kyiv in May, two months before a controversial phone call between President Trump and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky, which is now key to the inquiry.

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Former US ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch has told Congress she was ousted over “unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives”.

She said she was “incredulous” at being dismissed by President Donald Trump in May.

Marie Yovanovitch’s testimony is part of an impeachment inquiry against President Trump.

The Democratic probe is looking into whether the Republican president improperly pressured Ukraine to investigate his political rival Joe Biden.

The scandal was sparked by a whistleblower complaint about a July phone call between President Trump and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky.

During that conversation, President Trump described Marie Yovanovitch as “bad news”, according to a rough transcript released by the White House.

The decision to dismiss Marie Yovanovitch several months earlier reportedly followed President Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and other conservatives arguing she was biased against the president.

Image source Getty Images

President Trump Brands Whistleblower Complaint as “Ridiculous Story”

Joe Biden Criticizes Donald Trump’s Attacks on Intelligence Community

Rudy Giuliani had been working in Ukraine to press the authorities to investigate widely debunked corruption allegations against Joe Biden, and his son, Hunter, who was associated with a Ukrainian company.

The lawyer is coming under increasing scrutiny over his work for the president. Asked by reporters on October 11 if Rudy Giuliani was still his lawyer, President Trump answered ambiguously: “I don’t know. He’s a very good attorney and he has been my attorney.”

In a prepared statement, Marie Yovanovitch said:“Although I understand that I served at the pleasure of the president.

“I was nevertheless incredulous that the US government chose to remove an ambassador based, as best as I can tell, on unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives.”

Marie Yovanovitch said she did not know Rudy Giuliani’s reasons for attacking her.

“Equally fictitious is the notion that I am disloyal to President Trump,” she said.

“I have heard the allegation in the media that I supposedly told the embassy team to ignore the president’s orders ‘since he was going to be impeached.’ That allegation is false.”

She warned of the harm that will come to the US when “bad actors” realize “how easy it is to use fiction and innuendo to manipulate our system”.

Marie Yovanovitch said she had never met or spoken with Hunter Biden and that Joe Biden had never raised with her the subject of his son or the Ukrainian gas company that employed him.

She also said she learned that President Trump had called for her ousting since 2018 despite Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan telling her she had done nothing wrong.

Marie Yovanovitch said: “He said that the president had lost confidence in me and no longer wished me to serve as his ambassador. He added that there had been a concerted campaign against me.”

A Barack Obama-appointee, Marie Yovanovitch was confirmed by the Republican-controlled Senate and served as US ambassador to Ukraine from August 2016 until last May.

The whistleblower complaint noted Marie Yovanovitch’s surprise dismissal was a red flag for some officials.