President Trump ordered the State Department to recall U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch from her post in Ukraine in the spring, months before her scheduled departure, "after months of complaints from allies outside the administration, including his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, that she was undermining him abroad and obstructing efforts to persuade Kyiv to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden," The Wall Street Journal reported late Thursday. Giuliani told the Journal and CNN that he had complained about Yovanovitch to Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
According to Giuliani, "he reminded the president of complaints percolating among Trump supporters that she had displayed an anti-Trump bias in private conversations," the Journal reports. "In Giuliani's view, she also had been an obstacle to efforts to push Ukraine to investigate Biden and his son, Hunter." A person familiar with the matter told the Journal that "Yovanovitch's removal was a priority for the president," and Pompeo supported the move. State Department officials tried to counter the baseless theories spread by Giuliani, but they were told "they couldn't shield her from attacks by the president and his allies," the Journal adds.
"I don't know if I recalled her or somebody recalled her, but I heard very, very bad things about her for a very long period of time — not good," Trump told reporters Thursday morning. He said similar things on a July 25 call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, according to the White House partial transcript. Yovanovitch, a career diplomat, is scheduled to be deposed by the House impeachment investigators next Friday.
Giuliani's strong suggestion "that Trump decided to fire Yovanovitch because she was standing in the way of their plan to pressure Ukraine to go after Biden" is "at minimum a highly inconvenient fact to introduce into the president's defense," Jonathan Chait notes at New York. "And it comes from his own lawyer!"