Ex-envoy tells impeachment inquiry Trump ousted her based on 'false claims'

President Donald Trump speaks to members of the media on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington Thursday Oct. 10 2019 before boarding Marine One for a short trip to Andrews Air Force Base Md. and then on to Minneapolis for a campaign rally

Yovanovitch, who was recalled from her post in May after coming under attack from Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and other conservatives with unsubstantiated allegations that she tried to hold up anti-corruption efforts in the Ukraine, is still a member of the foreign service. He was scheduled to testify this week but the administration blocked him.

Yovanovitch defied a state department instruction not to speak to congressional committees leading impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump.

"By federal law and regulation, the State Department has sole authority to produce such documents, and Ambassador Sondland hopes the materials will be shared with the Committees in advance of his Thursday testimony", his lawyers said in a statement.

The former USA ambassador to Ukraine on Friday told a House of Representatives impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump that he ousted her based on "unfounded and false claims" after she had come under attack by his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.

The statement added that the diplomat "has no agenda apart from answering the Committees' questions fully and truthfully". The whistleblower accused the president of leveraging his office and withholding US aid to Ukraine to obtain "dirt" on a political opponent-2020 Democratic candidate Joe Biden.

Marie Yovanovitch was testifying behind closed doors Friday to House impeachment investigators, but her opening remarks were made available to multiple outlets.

The former US ambassador to Ukraine was removed from her post after insisting that Rudy Giuliani's requests to Ukrainian officials for investigations be relayed through official channels.

The inquiry was launched after a whistleblower complaint about a July 25 phone call in which Trump pressed his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, to investigate former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, a leading Democratic contender for the right to face Trump in the November 2020 election.

She also denied she had been "disloyal" to Mr. Trump.

Messages between Sondland and another ambassador were released along with other selected messages on October 3 by House Democrats, who argued that the messages "reflect serious concerns by a State Department official about the detrimental effects of withholding critical military assistance from Ukraine and the importance of setting up a meeting between President Trump and the Ukrainian President without further delay". The men, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, were arrested at Dulles International Airport Wednesday night trying to board a one-way flight to Vienna, where they were to be meeting Giuliani. Trump has denied he did anything wrong on the call. Shortly thereafter, Trump tweeted he could not allow Sondland to testify because the Democratic-led investigation was "compromised".

Hill recently left her White House post at the National Security Council, and her testimony on Capitol Hill would come after an appearance by Kurt Volker, the former USA special envoy to Ukraine.

Ms Yovanovitch was dismissed from her post prior to the July call.

The opposition-led probe centres on Mr Trump's dealings with Ukraine, including a call to investigate his presidential election rival Joe Biden.

The decision to dismiss her several months earlier reportedly followed the USA president's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and other conservatives arguing she was biased against the president.

In a letter to House Democrats last week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pushed back against Democrats' request to interview five current and former State Department employees, including Yovanovitch.

The Ukranian matter heated up Thursday when USA officials arrested two Ukrainian men who had worked closely with Rudy Guliani, Trump's personal lawyer.

Sessions lost his House seat from Texas previous year to a Democrat.



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