Former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovich told Congress on Friday that President Trump pushed the State Department to remove her from office after his lawyer Rudy Giuliani repeatedly accused her of protecting Joe Biden’s interests in Ukraine.
In her testimony, Yovanovich speculated that Giuliani may have urged her ouster to protect his Ukrainian associates.
“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 prepared remarks during a closed door deposition, according to a copy of the statement obtained by the New York Times.
Yovanovich further asserted that once she was removed in Spring 2019 she was ordered to return to the U.S. on “the next plane.”
The allegations Giuliani raised against her were “unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives,” she went on.
Giuliani had been looking into allegations of corruption against Joe Biden, whose son Hunter sat on the board of a Ukrainian natural gas company from 2014 to 2019. Former Ukrainian prosecutor general Victor Shokin was conducting an investigation of the company, but was himself accused of corruption and fired in 2016 after Joe Biden pressured the Ukrainian government at the behest of U.S. and European Union officials.
Trump and Giuliani have alleged a conflict of interest between the former vice president and his son.
House Democrats are currently conducting an impeachment inquiry into Trump’s own dealings in Ukraine.
In a July phone conversation, Trump urged Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate the allegations against the Bidens. One week earlier Trump had ordered a halt to a military aid package destined for Ukraine and approved by Congress. The timing has led Democrats to raise the suspicion that Trump used the aid package to pressure Ukraine to conduct an investigation damaging to a political rival.