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WASHINGTON (AP) — Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch told lawmakers Friday that President Donald Trump pressured the State Department to oust her from her position.
Yovanovitch said in an opening statement obtained by The Associated Press that she was “abruptly” recalled in May and told the president had lost confidence in her. She said she was told by an official that there was a “concerted campaign against me” and that Trump had pressured officials to remove her for almost a year.
“Although I understand that I served at the pleasure of the president, I was nevertheless incredulous that the U.S. government chose to remove an ambassador based, as best as I can tell, on unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives,” Yovanovitch wrote in the statement.
Yovanovitch appeared on Capitol Hill Friday for a deposition in the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry, accepting lawmakers’ invitation to testify despite Trump’s declaration that no one in his administration would cooperate with the probe. The Democrats are investigating Trump’s dealings with the Ukrainian president.
Yovanovitch is now a State Department fellow at Georgetown University. Trump said earlier this week that he would block all officials from testifying, saying the probe was unfair and “illegitimate.” It was unclear if Yovanovitch’s appearance signaled a shift in that strategy or if she was breaking with White House orders.
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