US envoy to testify in impeachment probe, against State Dept order

Trump Impeachment Ukraine Ambassador

Former ambassador to testify at inquiry into Trump

The statement was released on Friday on the same morning that the former USA ambassador to Kiev, Marie Yovanovitch, was to testify before the panels about what she knows of the Trump administration's pressure effort on Ukraine.

The president removed her in May, and called her "bad news" in his July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Voldymyr Zelensky, in which he asked him to open an investigation into the Bidens, which sparked the impeachment proceedings.

House Democrats have demanded to hear from four other state department officials: Ukraine Special Envoy Kurt Volker, Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, Deputy Assistant Secretary George Kent, and Counselor T Ulrich Brechbuhl.

Sondland was one of a handful of USA diplomats who facilitated Trump's interactions with Ukrainian leaders, according to a trove of text messages that former US special envoy Kurt Volker provided to House investigators last week.

Sondland is the sitting USA ambassador to the European Union and an employee of the State Department.

She said she did not know Mr Giuliani's reasons for attacking her.

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After Yovanovitch gave a tough speech in March urging the government to sack a senior anti-corruption official, she came under fire from Lutsenko, conservative voices in the USA and the president's son, Donald Trump Jr.

In her prepared remarks, Yovanovitch said President Donald Trump pushed for her ouster.

Yovanovitch is providing her deposition behind closed doors.

It had been unclear right up until Yovanovitch arrived whether she would appear for her testimony, because she still works for the State Department.

Sondland's text messages with other US diplomats were released last week after they were given to those House panels by former USA special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker during his own deposition.

Sondland was a Seattle, Wash. -based hotelier until Trump nominated him to his position as ambassador in May.

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Sondland apparently will not produce documents requested by House Democrats.

According to the whistleblower's complaint, some officials were concerned Mr Trump was soliciting interference from a foreign government for his own personal political interests during his call with President Zelensky.

"He added that there had been a concerted campaign against me, and that the Department had been under pressure from the president to remove me since the summer of 2018". She is expected to face questions about her knowledge, if any, of the Ukraine episode.

Giuliani told Reuters last week he had provided information to both Trump and the State Department about Yovanovitch, who he suggested was biased against Trump. Trump has denied he did anything wrong on the call.

Lutsenko accused Yovanovitch of obstructing Ukrainian investigations and providing the US with "evidence" of wrongdoing. His lawyers said Friday he would testify next Thursday, although he has not been authorized to release documents investigators have sought.

Parnas sought the help of a US congressman to get Trump to remove Yovanovitch, according to the indictment.

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Earlier on October 11, lawyers for Sondland said their client would honor a subpoena and testify on October 17 after failing to show three days earlier after being directed by the State Department not to voluntarily show up for the hearing. At his session earlier this month, Volker turned over a series of text messages he exchanged with Giuliani, a top aide to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and senior USA diplomats including Gordon Sondland, the US ambassador to the European Union.

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