More than a month before President Donald Trump pushed the Ukrainian president to investigate Democrats, the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine was recalled early from her office. It was a coup for Rudy Giuliani, who’d pushed for months for the ambassador’s ouster.
In a New Yorker profile published Monday, Giuliani explained why he wanted the ambassador, Marie Yovanovitch, gone: He believed she was standing in the way of “the investigations.”
“I believed that I needed Yovanovitch out of the way,” Giuliani told the magazine in November.
“She was going to make the investigations difficult for everybody,” he said.
Trump ultimately pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky directly on July 25 to pursue those investigations — into Joe Biden and other Democrats — forming the basis of the articles of impeachment recently approved by the House Judiciary Committee.
But by that time, Yovanovitch was long gone. She was ousted in May after a months-long smear campaign against her led by Giuliani and two of his associates who’ve since been indicted, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman.
Giuliani has acknowledged that he argued for firing Yovanovitch in meetings with Trump, but never in such blunt language as he used with the magazine.
The New York mayor has used two justifications for his activities in Ukraine. First, he’s said that he’s acting as Trump’s lawyer and building a public defense for Trump. But he’s also claimed that he was tasked with Ukraine errands by the government. Both may be true: Multiple Trump administration officials, in impeachment inquiry testimony, recalled Trump telling them to “talk to Rudy” about Ukraine.
Yovanovitch was an early victim of Giuliani’s involvement in Kiev, according to several witnesses testimonies in the impeachment probe.
The ousted ambassador acknowledged in testimony that she participated in the decision to deny a visa to Viktor Shokin, Ukraine’s former top prosecutor and a key witness for Giuliani’s discredited claims about Democrats.
Consular officials told Yovanovitch they believed Shokin was ineligible “based on his, you know, known corrupt activities,” Yovanovitch recalled, and she advised them to treat Shokin like “some other businessman” — as if “we didn’t recognize the name.”
Yovanovitch testified that she later heard that Giuliani was accusing her of blocking Shokin’s visa.
Giuliani acknowledged as much to The New Yorker: “I was kind of pissed off at her at that point,” he said.