A top U.S. diplomat testified to Congress on Saturday that the U.S. State Department blocked a statement in support of the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine before President Trump ousted the ambassador from her position last May, according to reports.
Philip Reeker, acting assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, said he tried to get the State Department to “issue a strong statement in support of” Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch to keep her from being forced out over "false" claims.
He said he heard from staffers for David Hale, undersecretary of state for political affairs, that the State Department wouldn’t be releasing a statement in her defense, Politico reported.
Reeker testified behind closed doors for more than eight hours.
Philip Reeker, acting assistant secretary of state for Europe, leaves the Capitol in Washington after a closed-door interview Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019. (Associated Press)
“More or less his first day on the job, the Yovanovitch situation blows up,” a person familiar with Reeker’s testimony who spoke on condition of anonymity reportedly told Politico.
Yovanovitch testified to Congress earlier this month that there was “a concerted campaign” against her based on “unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives.”
Reeker, who started his position in March, said the attacks were launched by Rudy Giuliani, President Trump’s personal lawyer.
The State Department tried to keep Reeker from testifying but he appeared Saturday under subpoena, Politico reported.
House Democrats launched an impeachment inquiry into the president over a July phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in which Trump asked him to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden and potentially withheld military aid until an investigation was started.