Trump's personal lawyer admitted that he led the effort to oust former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch because he needed her 'out of the way.'
Rudy Giuliani admitted in an interview last month, published on Monday, that he pushed for a U.S. ambassador to be removed from her post because she was getting in the way of his efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate Trump's political rivals.
The admission knocks down a key GOP defense and helps Democrats make their case for impeaching and removing Trump.
Giuliani, who serves as Trump's personal lawyer, told the New Yorker in November that he lead the effort to smear the now-former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine because she was an obstacle in getting the investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden that both Trump and Giuliani sought.
"I believed that I needed Yovanovitch out of the way,” Giuliani said, referring to former Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch. "She was going to make the investigations difficult for everybody."
Yovanovitch first testified in the House impeachment inquiry in October, saying that Giuliani leveled multiple false smears against her that ultimately led to her ouster in May. She noted specifically that the smear campaign was "based, as far as I can tell, on unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives."
Giuliani told the New Yorker last month that he worked with conservative reporter John Solomon to run the smear campaign against Yovanovitch, which gave Trump cover to fire Yovanovitch.
"I said, 'John, let’s make this as prominent as possible,'" Giuliani told me. "'I’ll go on TV. You go on TV. You do columns.'"
During the impeachment hearings, Republicans said Trump was justified in withholding $400 million in security aid to Ukraine over the summer because he was merely concerned about corruption in the country. However, Giuliani's admission to the New Yorker may prove the opposite.
Yovanovitch was widely respected in her role as ambassador for her long-running anti-corruption efforts. The House Intelligence Committee laid this out in its report recommending that Trump be impeached.
"Ambassador Yovanovitch, an award-winning 33-year veteran Foreign Service officer, aggressively advocated for anti-corruption reforms in Ukraine consistent with U.S. foreign policy," it reads.
But Giuliani was intent on helping Trump force Ukraine to open an investigation into his political rivals, including Biden and the Democratic National committee, and on unearthing evidence to discredit former special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation — and Yovanovitch stood in the way of that.
Giuliani also admitted to the New Yorker that he was working on his pressure campaign with the corrupt and ousted former Ukrainian General Prosecutor Yuriy Lutsenko — who wanted to "exact revenge" on Yovanovitch for helping push him out of government, according to testimony in the impeachment inquiry.
"President Trump forced Yovanovitch out following a baseless smear campaign promoted by his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, associates of Mr. Giuliani, and corrupt Ukrainians," the House Intelligence Committee explained in its report this week.
Despite Giuliani's involvement in the saga that prompted the impeachment inquiry, Trump is still currently working with his lawyer on investigating discredited conspiracy theories about Ukraine's involvement in the 2016 election, as well as into Biden.
As the House Judiciary Committee finalized articles of impeachment against Trump for abusing the power of the presidency by seeking foreign interference in the 2020 election last week, Trump was meeting with Giuliani at the White House.
Giuliani had just returned from a trip to Ukraine, where he had sought information on Biden he believed would be helpful to Trump.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.