The focus is on the dismissal of US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.
In Congress on Wednesday, the third-most senior State Department official, David Hale, speaks. As previously reported, he is expected to tell lawmakers that the Department’s refusal to defend former US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Jovanovich was due to political considerations.
According to sources familiar with the situation, Hale, who holds the position of Deputy Secretary of state for Political Affairs, is going to say that Secretary of state Mike Pompeo and other senior officials felt that standing up for Yovanovitch, could interfere with efforts to unfreeze military aid to Ukraine.
Hale is also expected to note that the State Department was concerned about the reaction of Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who advocated for the Ambassador’s removal.
Meanwhile, state Department lawyer Ulrich Brechbuhl, who was scheduled to testify Wednesday, flew with Pompeo to Germany in the morning. Also scheduled for Wednesday were two more witnesses, acting white house Budget office Director Russell Vaught and energy Secretary Rick Perry. They are not expected to appear either.
Yovanovitch herself, who was removed from office early in May, has already testified as part of the impeachment investigation. She spoke about how Giuliani and other trump confidants sought her resignation. According to the diplomat, a senior representative of the Ukrainian authorities advised her to “beware of a stab in the back.”
Hale is expected to clarify why the state Department did not intervene and stand up for the Ambassador. According to sources familiar with the situation, Hale will report that he tried to distance himself from the Yovanovitch case by removing himself from the list of participants in electronic correspondence on the subject.
For example, Hale never responded to a letter from Pompeo’s former top aide, Michael McKinley, who urged the Secretary of state to come to Jovanovitch’s defense after the publication of a transcript of a phone conversation between President Trump and Ukrainian leader Vladimir Zelensky.
According to one source, Hale intends to say Pompeo’s actions were “politically wise” in the end.
Hale, who is fluent in Arabic, began diplomatic service in 1984 and subsequently served as Ambassador to Lebanon, Pakistan, and Jordan, as well as working in Tunisia, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia.