WSJ: Trump ordered removal of US ambassador to Ukraine

WSJ: Trump ordered removal of US ambassador to Ukraine
U.S. Army Europe from Wiesbaden, Germany [Public domain]
Former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch (left)

President Donald Trump ordered the removal of Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch from her post in Ukraine following complaints by his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and others, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

Yovanovitch, who was recalled months earlier than expected in May 2019, was accused by Giuliani without evidence of trying to undermine the President and blocking efforts to investigate Democrats like former Vice President Joe Biden. According to the Wall Street Journal, a person familiar with the matter said that State Department officials were told that her removal was “a priority” for Trump.

Yovanovitch is scheduled to give a deposition to the House Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees next Friday.

At the time of her removal, the State Department said that she was “concluding her three-year diplomatic assignment in Kyiv in 2019 as planned” and that her departure aligned with the presidential transition in Ukraine. Yovanovitch, a career member of the foreign service who has served in ambassadorships under three presidents, was sworn in as ambassador to Ukraine in August 2016.

Asked on Thursday morning why Yovanovitch was recalled, Trump said, “I don’t know if I recalled her or somebody recalled her, but I heard very, very bad things about her for a very long period of time — not good.”

The US President had also disparaged the former ambassador to Ukraine in his July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

“The former ambassador from the United States, the woman, was bad news and the people she was dealing with in the Ukraine were bad news so I just want to let you know that,” Trump said, according to a White House transcript.

Zelensky, who was elected in April 2019, echoed the US President’s sentiment, saying, “I agree with you 100%.”

“She’s going to go through some things,” Trump added.

Giuliani told the Wall Street Journal that he had reminded the President “of complaints percolating among Trump supporters that she had displayed an anti-Trump bias in private conversations.” Giuliani told the paper that when he mentioned Yovanovitch to Trump in the spring, the President “remembered he had a problem with her earlier and thought she had been dismissed” and was then asked to provide a list of his allegations about the career diplomat again. Giuliani confirmed to CNN on Thursday that he spoke with Trump about Yovanovitch earlier in the year and that someone in the administration called to talk more about his claims.

“I felt the President needed to know this to make a personnel decision,” he told CNN.

Giuliani also claimed to CNN that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called him and asked if he had “anything on paper” regarding the claims about Yovanovitch. Many of the baseless theories Giuliani had about the former ambassador were included in a packet of documents handed over to Congress by