US envoy says she felt threatened

Source:AFP Published: 2019/11/5 20:48:41

1st impeachment transcripts go public as White House stonewalls

Former US ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch Photo: VCG

Witness transcripts in the impeachment probe into Donald Trump were made public for the first time on Monday, with the former US ambassador to Kiev telling investigators she felt threatened by the president in his call to Ukraine's leader.

Democrats are entering an open phase of a congressional probe into potential abuse of power by Trump that has divided Washington as Republicans seek to defend him and his opponents pursue his removal from office.

The release of Marie Yovanovitch's deposition came as the White House hardened its opposition to the inquiry, with Trump's top national security lawyer defying a subpoena to testify early Monday.

The probe is examining how Trump pressured Ukraine to investigate his Democratic rival Joe Biden, including by withholding $391 million in military aid that had been approved by Congress to help the US ally defend itself against Russian aggression.

Yovanovitch, who had urged Ukraine to do more to fight corruption, testified last month that she was ousted in May over "false claims" spread by questionable actors allied to Trump.

According to her deposition, she was alarmed by the deepening involvement of Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani in Ukrainian affairs, and in particular his efforts to get Kiev to investigate Biden.

She said she was "shocked" when she read the summary of Trump's July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in which Trump said the ambassador was "going to go through some things."

"I was very concerned. I still am," Yovanovitch says.

"Did you feel threatened?" an investigator asks Yovanovitch in the transcript. 

"Yes," she replies.

"I really don't know her," Trump told reporters of Yovanovitch on Monday, adding that he was "sure she's a very fine woman."

In fact, Yovanovitch came up repeatedly in Trump's phone call with ­Zelensky, with the US president describing her as "bad news," according to a White House summary of the conversation.

The release is the first of what House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff said would be several key depositions. 


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