Former Ukraine ambassador targeted by Giuliani scheduled to testify Friday

Marie Yovanovitch

Energy Secretary Rick Perry has also been issued a subpoena for documents about his involvement in Ukraine, as Democrats move forward with their impeachment inquiry into the president's efforts to have Ukraine investigate political rival Joe Biden.

The State Department apparently did not demand that she not appear, as it did earlier this week with U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland.

Trump's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, along with two of his associates, Ukrainian-born Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, who were arrested this week for campaign finance violations, worked to gain dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, and convince the Ukrainian government to investigate them.

The White House is refusing to participate in the impeachment inquiry, calling it "unconstitutional." and the State Department has, thus far, blocked US ambassador to the European Union and Trump donor Gordon Sondland from giving voluntary testimony. Sondland's attorney, Robert Luskin, said at the time that his client was directed by the U.S. State Department to not appear for his scheduled meeting in Congress.

In her prepared remarks, Yovanovitch said she had "only minimal contacts" with Giuliani and says none related to the events that are at the center of the inquiry.

Ms Yovanovitch was recalled from her role in May.

Yovanovitch said Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan told her after she was recalled that Trump "lost confidence" in her and no longer wanted her to serve as ambassador to Ukraine.

Ms Yovanovitch was dismissed from her post prior to the July call.

"She's a courageous woman", Democratic congressman Michael Quigley said of Yovanovitch during a break in the testimony.

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Yovanovitch said she was "incredulous" that she was removed "as best as I can tell, on unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives".

The House also subpoenaed records from the Defense Department and White House budget office that need to be turned over by October 15.

The inquiry was launched after a whistleblower complaint from a person within the USA intelligence community about a July 25 phone call, in which Trump pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate domestic political rival Biden and his son, Hunter Biden. Trump has denied he did anything wrong on the call.

The national security council's former senior director for Europe and Russia, Fiona Hill, is due to speak to the House committees on Monday.

Giuliani has accused Yovanovitch of blocking efforts to persuade Ukraine to investigate the Bidens.

On Thursday, two foreign-born Florida businessmen who had helped Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani investigate Biden were arrested in what prosecutors said was a scheme to illegally funnel money to a pro-Trump election committee and other US political candidates.

Even before the testimony, the attention on Yovanovitch was renewed Thursday after USA prosecutors arrested two Florida businessmen tied to Giuliani, charging them with campaign finance violations. According to a cached biography on the State Department, earlier in her career she worked at the US embassies in Ottawa, London, Moscow and Mogadishu.

Businessmen with ties to Giuliani lobbied a US congressman in 2018 for help ousting Yovanovitch, according to an indictment made public Thursday following the men's arrest.

"Ambassador Sondland has at all times acted with integrity and in the interests of the United States", the lawyers said.

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