November 15, 2019 / 11:07 AM / a month ago

'I was very concerned:' Former U.S. ambassador Yovanovitch in impeachment spotlight

(Reuters) - Former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch takes center stage in the House of Representatives’ impeachment inquiry on Friday, when she is scheduled to testify about events before and after President Donald Trump removed her from her post in Kiev.

Former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch leaves after testifying in the U.S. House of Representatives impeachment inquiry into U.S. President Trump on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S, October 11, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso

The House Intelligence Committee is in its second day of public hearings on whether Trump abused his powers when he unexpectedly suspended U.S. security aid to Ukraine this year.

Democrats are looking into whether Trump took the action to pressure Ukraine into launching an investigation of former Vice President Joe Biden’s son’s business dealings in Ukraine. Biden is a leading Democratic candidate for president. Trump denies any wrongdoing.

Here are some highlights of Yovanovitch’s Oct. 11 closed-door testimony:

* Yovanovich said she was ousted from her post in May after coming under attack from Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, whose associates “may well have believed that their personal financial ambitions were stymied by our anti-corruption policy in Ukraine.”

* The career diplomat said she felt threatened by Trump telling Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on a July telephone call that she was going to “go through some things.”

“I didn’t know what it meant. I was very concerned,” she said. “I still am.”

* Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan told Yovanovitch that she had she had done nothing wrong as ambassador but that Trump had lost confidence in her.

“I did ask him, though, you know, what does this mean for our foreign policy? What does it mean for our position on anti-corruption? What message are we sending to the Ukrainians, to the world?”

* Yovanovitch said Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union and a major Trump donor, had urged her to express support for Trump to save her job.

“He said, you know, you need to go big or go home. You need to, you know, tweet out there that you support the president,” she said.

* Shortly before being recalled to Washington, Yovanovitch said she received two late-night calls on April 24 and 25 from Director General of the Foreign Service Carol Perez.

“She said that she was giving me a heads-up, that things were going wrong, kind of ... off the track.” Hours later, at 1 a.m. in Ukraine, Perez called again to say “that I needed to be on the next plane home to Washington. And I was like, what? What happened? And she said, I don’t know, but this is about your security. You need to come home immediately.”

Compiled by Richard Cowan; editing by Scott Malone and Jonathan Oatis

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