Michael McKinley, a former top adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, told the House committees leading the impeachment probe that he resigned his post after a "puzzling and baffling" lack of support for the former USA ambassador to Ukraine, according to a transcript of his testimony released Monday.
"What did you understand that to mean?" the transcript of her testimony said. A number of officials raised red flags after the president called for Zelensky to investigate former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden.
Yovanovitch told the committees that she first learned from Ukrainian officials in late 2018 about attempts by Giuliani and his associate, the ex-prosecutor general of Ukraine Yuriy Lutsenko, to damage her reputation.
According to a partial transcript of her testimony in Congress' impeachment inquiry that was released on Monday, Yovanovitch was "shocked" and "concerned" Trump even mentioned her during the phone call.
This is a developing story.
In her testimony, Yovanovitch was able to lay out for investigators the early stages of the Ukraine pressure campaign and how her State Department counterparts in the USA struggled to respond to it.
Yovanovitch said she couldn't grasp at the time what was happening because it was so outside the realm of normal.
"If you have the President's son saying, you know, We need to pull these clowns, or however he referred to me, it makes it hard to be a credible ambassador in a country", she said.
She said she was told Lutsenko "was looking to hurt me in the US", adding: "I couldn't imagine what that was". She testified that she was removed based on "false claims by people with clearly questionable motives" and after Trump embarked on a smear campaign against her starting in the summer of 2018.
Yovanovitch was pushed out of her job in May on Trump's orders.
Speaking to reporters on Sunday, the president was asked if he wants his former national security adviser, John Bolton, to testify to House Democrats.
"As we move [toward] this new public phase of the impeachment inquiry, the American public will begin to see for themselves the evidence the committees have collected", Intelligence committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., foreign affairs committee Chair Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., and acting oversight committee Chair Rep.
Witnesses before congressional committees are permitted to review transcripts of their testimony and approve them before their release. Was that his advice, that you publicly say something to that effect?'
The former envoy stressed to investigators that she was not disloyal to the president.
McKinley, a 37-year veteran career diplomat, testified that he chose to resign from his post as a senior adviser to Pompeo after his repeated efforts to get the State Department to issue a statement of support for Yovanovitch after the transcript of the Trump-Zelensky phone call was released. It's unclear whether any of them will come to Capitol Hill.
She said she spoke to either Phil Reeker or George Kent about it.
The former Pompeo aide also proposed publishing a statement of support for Ms Yovanovitch after the release of the White House memo regarding Mr Trump's call with Mr Zelensky.
Yovanovitch, who spent her entire career as a foreign service officer, told lawmakers she met with the deputy secretary of state to ask why her deployment to Ukraine was terminated.