A top State Department official told House impeachment investigators on Tuesday that he was instructed to “lay low” after he criticized the White House’s utilization of Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani to interact with Ukraine, the Washington Post reported.
George Kent, the deputy assistant secretary of state responsible for Ukraine, was reportedly booted out of Ukraine dealings and instructed to focus on the five other countries in his portfolio after he raised concerns. Kent was reportedly told to defer to Energy Secretary Rick Perry, U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland and former U.S. envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker for all matters related to Ukraine.
Rep. Gerald Connolly (D-VA) told reporters after Kent’s testimony on Tuesday that the group — whose efforts to carry out Trump and Giuliani’s political pressure campaign in Ukraine are under scrutiny from House committees probing impeachment — referred to themselves as the “three amigos.” The three attended the inauguration for the new Ukrainian president and helped push Ukrainian officials to open an investigation in former Vice President Joe Biden.
Kent was given the directive by acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney during a May 23 meeting, Connolly told the Post, just days after then-Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yavanovitch was yanked from her post for objecting to Giuliani’s pressure campaign. Kent had previously expressed concern about Giuliani’s handling of foreign dealings with Ukraine.
Yavanovitch testified before House investigators last week, discussing the Trump-Giuliani campaign to oust her from her position at length. Giuliani’s two indicted-business associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman allegedly enlisted Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) to help push Yavanovitch out of her position in exchange for campaign contributions. Parnas and Fruman were arrested for violating campaign finance laws last week and were heavily involved in the Giuliani-orchestrated pressure campaign to get Ukraine to dig up dirt on the Bidens.