Abandoning diplomat's discretion, ex-Ukraine ambassador takes Trump to task

Ukraine to investigate potential 2016 US election interference

The very appearance on Capitol Hill by Yovanovitch, who remains a federal employee, is a victory for Democrats given the White House's public stance against cooperating with the probe.

On Thursday, two Florida businessmen - Ukraine-born Lev Parnas and Belarus-born Igor Fruman - who had helped Giuliani as he investigated Ms Biden were arrested in what United States prosecutors said was a scheme to illegally funnel money to a pro-Trump election committee and other political candidates.

"Contacts of Mr. Giuliani may well have believed that their personal financial ambitions were stymied by our anti-corruption policy in Ukraine", she said in her opening statement on Friday.

What did the ambassador say?

"This was precisely the time when continuity in the embassy in Ukraine was most needed".

"I do not know Mr. Giuliani's motives for attacking me", she says.

She also was firm that she had never criticized the president in an unprofessional manner, or that she had done anything to disobey or ignore his orders.

"Equally fictitious is the notion that I am disloyal to President Trump", Ms Yovanovitch said.

On Wednesday a poll by Fox News, which is supportive of the president, found that 51% of voters are in favour of impeaching Mr Trump and removing him from office.

She said in her statement on October 11 that she was abruptly told this spring to depart Ukraine "on the next plane".

She said that there was "a concerted campaign against me, and that the Department had been under pressure from the president to remove me". I haven't spoken to Rudy, ' Trump said, when asked about it. She said: "I have served this nation honorably for more than 30 years".

In her statement, Yovanovitch denied any bias.

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

The whistleblower complaint noted her surprise dismissal was a red flag for some officials.

A White House summary of the call showed Trump asked Zelenskiy to investigate business dealings by the family of his political rival Joe Biden in Ukraine, as well as claims the former vice-president had a Ukrainian prosecutor fired for looking into a company where his son worked.

She will likely be asked about U.S. military aid to Ukraine and details about the administration's decision to withhold that aid.

A day earlier, USA prosecutors arrested two Florida businessmen tied to Giuliani, charging them with campaign finance violations.

Fiona Hill, Trump's former Russian Federation adviser at the White House who resigned in August, is expected to testify on Monday.

House Democrats have demanded to hear from four other state department officials: Ukraine Special Envoy Kurt Volker, Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, Deputy Assistant Secretary George Kent, and Counselor T Ulrich Brechbuhl.

Meanwhile, Gordon Sondland, the USA ambassador to the European Union, will comply with a House subpoena and testify October 18 before the committees, his lawyers said. On Friday morning, however, Sondland's lawyer issued a statement saying Sondland would appear after all on October 17. The lawyers, Robert Luskin and Kwame Manley, said that State Department regulations prohibit Sondland from producing documents concerning his official responsibilities and that the department has the "sole authority" to do so.

The diplomat was recalled from Kyiv as Rudy Giuliani - who is Trump's personal attorney and has no official role in the US government - pressed Ukrainian officials to investigate baseless corruption allegations against Democrat Joe Biden and his son Hunter, who was involved with a gas company there.

"This is not corruption, it was just a call", Mr Zelensky said on Thursday.

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