Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent told the Trump impeachment inquiry that he was also subject to attacks by Giuliani but was told to “keep head down."
A top United States diplomat told congressional investigators that President Donald Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani conducted a “campaign full of lies” against the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine before she was recalled from her post, according to a transcript of his testimony released Thursday.
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent told the Trump impeachment inquiry that he was also subject to attacks by Giuliani but was told to “keep my head down” by a senior State Department official. He mentioned Giuliani 73 times in his testimony to lawmakers which was given behind closed doors session on Oct.15t.
The U.S. president's lawyer is key to the inquiry and he has been mentioned frequently in testimony by State Department diplomats who have painted a picture of the former New York City mayor running a shadow U.S. policy toward Ukraine to pressure it to carry out a corruption investigation into Biden and his son, who worked for a Ukrainian gas company.
Marie Yovanovitch, former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, was abruptly pulled from her post in May. Kent said Giuliani conducted a smear campaign against the envoy, calling his allegations against former Yovanovitch “without basis, untrue.”
Neither Giuliani nor a lawyer for him immediately responded to requests for comment on Kent’s testimony. Although Giuliani admitted to Reuters he played a role in the bid to remove Yovanovitch.
Kent said Ukrainian officials understood when they met with Giuliani that he was not a regular private citizen and understood he represented Trump.
“Giuliani was not consulting with the State Department about what he was doing in the first half of 2019. And to the best of my knowledge, he’s never suggested that he was promoting U.S. policy,” Kent explained.
The Ukraine scandal is the result of a whistleblower from within the U.S. intelligence community lodging a complaint with an internal watchdog about Trump’s conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
The July 25 call, which was later released by the White House, confirmed that the U.S. president asked Zelenskiy to investigate his political rival in coordination with the U.S. attorney general and Trump’s personal lawyer, which in turn occurred after Trump had ordered a freeze of nearly US$400 million in U.S. aid to Ukraine, which the administration only later released.
Trump has denied he did this to get leverage or blackmail Zelenskiy. Federal election law prohibits candidates from accepting foreign help in an election.
However, U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland admitted Monday in a revised version of his earlier testimony that in fact, he told a Ukrainian official the U.S. would withhold aid unless they pursued investigations against Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden demanded by Trump.