Musing about law, books, and politics

Ambassador Yovanovitch Deposition

I finally read the deposition. Here are my notes, interspersed with commentary.

In Nov-Dec: 2018: Yovanovitch became aware Giuliani was trying to make contact and communicate with people in Ukraine.

She knew he had clients in Ukraine, but she didn’t know why he was seeking to talk to Ukrainians.

People in Ukraine knew Giuliani began meeting with Lutsenko [who, at the time, was Prosecutor General of Ukraine] because Lutsenko was talking freely about it.

In February, a Ukrainian official, Avakov, told Yovanovitch she needed to “watch her back” because Giuliani was looking to “hurt” her in the US.

Yovanovitch learned about Parnas and Fruman’s financial business in a Ukrainian energy company and assumed her anti-corruption efforts was hurting their financial interests.

Giuliani reached out to Avakov, but Avakov didn’t meet with Giuliani. He was afraid it would be “dangerous.”

Avakov knew of Giuliani’s personal connection to Trump, and was afraid of getting involved in U.S domestic politics and losing bi-partisan support in the US.

Yovanovitch explained why such a meeting would be dangerously “political”:

Notice that she mentions Manafort. If you forgot what the Black Ledger was that resulted in Manafort’s resignation from the Trump Campaign, click here.

She also mentioned the $40 billion that former president Viktor Yanukovych and his cronies absconded with. Ukrainians want to look into how and where that money was laundered so they can get it back.

Yovanovitch explained that historically, the prosecutor’s office—a holdover from Soviet days—was a hotbed of corruption; cases were investigated or prosecuted based on how much money changed hands.

She said Lutsenko was supposed to reform the office, but didn’t. He wasn’t happy that the embassy kept calling for him to clean up the prosecutor’s office.

The goal—what most Ukrainians wanted—was to end corruption and fully transition Ukraine to a rule of law country.

Late March: She learned that Lutsenko talked about opening an investigation into the Bidens. The State Dept. issued a strong statement that Lutsenko’s allegations were not true. She believes Lutsenko was an opportunist hoping for an endorsement from Trump to keep him in power.

About the Burisma case: she explained that it was never closed. Even though the allegations were unfounded, it remained “dormant.” This was part of the corruption of the office. Cases were not closed in the event that the investigation was needed as a political weapon.

March 24, 2019 Trump Jr. tweeted that she was a “joker,” which made it hard for her to be a credible ambassador.

(Notice how the Trump family conducts foreign policy by Tweet.)

She asked the Secretary of State for a statement that she had the backing of the US. The State Department could not issue a statement of support for her from “concern that the rug would be pulled out from underneath the State Department.” Who would pull out the rug? Trump.

Ambassador Sondland (the guy Trump picked after he donated millions to Trump advised her how to respond to the smears. He said she should tweet out a public statement that she supported President Trump. She didn’t because she didn’t think it would be appropriate.

Notice: If you want to keep you job, you must declare your loyalty to Trump. And what the heck does “go big or go home?” mean? Does it mean, “Declare your loyalty to Trump and increase your power or just quit” ?

She was also told by Phil Reeker that the Secretary or someone around him was going to call Sean Hannity to ask if he had proof of the allegations against her . She knows the call took place, but doesn’t know what was said.

(The Secretary of State calls Sean Hannity??)

When she was fired, she was told she had to return “immediately” on the next plane for her “security.” The concern was a Tweet from Trump would put her in danger:

She was also told that there was no “cause” for her dismissal; it came from Trump.

For 33 years, her performance evaluations had been good, and she was steadily given increased responsibility. She worried what message this would send about their position on anti-corruption.

(Okay, so. A diplomat who served for 33 years has to hurry home because the President of the United States might put her in danger with a tweet?)

She said this:

Elsewhere she said ambassadors shouldn’t be selected based on private interests.

On April 24: Giuliani went on Fox and Friends and said, “Keep your eye on Ukraine”

[Who wants to bet that Schiff and Pelosi saw all this coming last spring?]

After she returned, she learned that Trump had wanted her out since July 2018.

She testified that the White House meeting with Zelensky was important because “we are the most important partner for Ukraine,” establishing a relationship with the US president was “critical” for Zelensky.

Regarding “favors,” see also:

During the July 25 phone call, when Trump said about her that, “she’s going to go through some things” she felt threatened.

The House Republicans made repeated pathetic attempts to get some testimony from her that would help Trump, but they couldn’t do it.

To give one example, they seized on her testimony that Zelenskyy was a reformer who wanted to end corruption. Then they read part of the July 25 Trump-Zelenskyy call to suggest that maybe she WAS corrupt, since Zelenskyy suggested it.

But then the Democrats.established the context, that Trump was the one who said she was a bad ambassador; Zelenskyy just went along.

I worked my notes from Yovanovitch’s testimony into my master timeline, which you can see here.

[View as a Twitter thread]