Lobbyist worked to get Ukraine envoy fired: diplomat

Two State Department officials are expected to testify behind closed doors in the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump Wednesday. In her opening statement, Catherine Croft – a Ukraine specialist – says she was repeatedly contacted by lobbyist Robert Livingston, a former congressman, who she says was seeking the removal of the US Ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, an action later taken by President Donald Trump after he was urged to do so by his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Croft says she documented those calls and told her superiors. Both she and Christopher Anderson, also a career diplomat, are expected to lay out how State Department officials’ efforts to express support for Ukraine were stymied by the White House. Their testimony comes a day after a senior White House official testified on Tuesday he was so alarmed by hearing Trump ask Ukraine’s president to investigate a political rival, Democrat Joe Biden, that he reported the matter to a White House lawyer. Appearing on Capitol Hill in his military dress uniform, Army Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, a Ukraine-born U.S. citizen and decorated Iraq war combat veteran, became the first person to testify who listened in on the July 25 call at the heart of the Ukraine scandal. According to the the New York Times, Vindman told lawmakers the readout of the conversation released by the White House left out information he wanted put in — including an assertion by Trump that there were recordings of Biden discussing corruption in Ukraine and Ukraine President Zelenskiy’s explicit mention of Burisma, the energy company where Biden’s son was on the board. This would contradict the president who has claimed the notes of the call are a word for word transcript.

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