Kent accused Giuliani of a ‘campaign of lies’ against Yovanovitch, the former ambassador to Ukraine.
Kent transcript, Page 131: “Mr. Giuliani, at that point, had been carrying on a campaign for several months full of lies and incorrect information about Ambassador Yovanovitch, so this was a continuation of his campaign of lies.”
In his testimony to investigators, Mr. Kent expressed deep anger about the removal of Marie L. Yovanovitch, former the ambassador to Ukraine. He repeatedly accused Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, of mounting a campaign to smear her as disloyal to Mr. Trump to have her removed, later saying that Mr. Giuliani’s “assertions and allegations against former Ambassador Yovanovitch were without basis, untrue, period.”
— Michael D. Shear
Like other officials, Mr. Kent pressed unsuccessfully for the State Department to publicly defend Yovanovitch.
Kent transcript, Page 66: “Particularly after there were tweets by members of the Presidential family, it was clearly a crisis for Ambassador Yovanovitch and a crisis that was threatening to consume the relationship. So our recommendation to our superiors was that there should be a clear statement of support for Ambassador Yovanovitch.”
Attacks on Ms. Yovanovitch by Mr. Giuliani — and his allies in Ukraine and the United States — mark the beginning of the story Democratic investigators seek to tell the public. Mr. Kent’s testimony makes clear that he and other State Department officials responsible for the United States-Ukraine relationship were deeply alarmed by the smears, and they believed that unsubstantiated accusations Ms. Yovanovitch’s disloyalty could undermine the relationship between the two countries and ultimately create a vacuum for bad actors.
Despite their concerns, requests from the American Embassy in Kiev and Mr. Kent’s office at the State Department were declined, he said. He watched in growing exasperation as what had begun as a fringe campaign against Ms. Yovanovitch moved into Mr. Trump’s inner circle and eventually led the president to order her recall to the United States this spring.
— Nicholas Fandos
Kent was told ‘to keep my head down and lower my profile in Ukraine.’
Kent transcript, Page 249-251: “Q Did you have any discussions with anyone else at the State Department by mid-July, any time up to mid-July or prior to, about Mr. Giuliani’s potential influence on the President and the fact that what he was advocating may be contrary to official U.S. Policy?
A I did not, in part because after Giuliani attacked me, as well as Ambassador Yovanovitch and the entire embassy, in his late May interview, I was told to keep my head down and lower my profile in Ukraine.
Q Who told you that?
A The message was relayed from my supervisor, Acting Assistant Secretary Reeker message relayed from Under Secretary Hale.
Q Do you know if it became from above Under Secretary Hale?
A All I know is that Assistant Secretary Reeker, after a meeting with Under Secretary Hale said that Under Secretary Hale had directed me to keep my head down and a lower profile in Ukraine.
Mr. Kent’s testimony underscores how Mr. Trump gave Mr. Giuliani wide latitude to steer United States policy on Ukraine, muscling aside career diplomats and senior officials with expertise in the region in the process. The message was clearly understood throughout the foreign policy apparatus, and communicated to diplomats like Mr. Kent who were told that that they would be better off taking a back seat on Ukraine policy to others who were more aligned with Mr. Trump’s interests.
— Kenneth P. Vogel
Kurt Volker said he asked Mr. Zelensky’s team to pursue the investigations because Mr. Giuliani wanted them.
Kent transcript, Page 246-247: “But he did tell me that he planned to start reaching out to the former Mayor of New York, Rudy Giuliani. And when I asked him why, he said that it was clear that the former mayor had influence on the President in terms of the way the President thought of Ukraine. And I think by that moment in time, that was self-evident to anyone who was working on the issues, and therefore, it made sense to try to engage the mayor.
Later adding, “And Kurt’s reaction, or response to me at that was, well, if there’s nothing there, what does it matter? And if there is something there, it should be investigated. My response to him was asking another country to investigate a prosecution for political reasons undermines our advocacy of the rule of 1aw.”
This provides more visibility into why Mr. Volker, a well-respected veteran diplomat, was willing to relay Mr. Giuliani’s requests for politically motivated investigations that he and Mr. Trump were seeking into the Bidens and accusations that Ukrainian officials sought to damage Mr. Trump’s 2016 campaign.
Mr. Kent recounts how Mr. Volker was essentially trying to appease Mr. Giuliani, recognizing that he had the president’s ear on Ukraine, and arguing that doing his bidding would not do any harm. But Mr. Kent disagreed, saying that politically motivated investigations were inappropriate and pursuing them could do substantial harm to the United States’ standing in the world.
— Kenneth P. Vogel