Ukraine’s Zelensky: ‘No Blackmail’ in Telephone Call with Trump

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy speaks to media during his press conference in Kiev Ukraine

Ms Yovanovitch had become the subject of claims from Trump allies that she was blocking an investigation into Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential hopeful, and was disloyal to the president - allegations she vehemently denies.

Her testimony could be a breakthrough for those seeking first-hand details about efforts by Trump, including through Giuliani, to pressure Ukraine to investigate Biden and his son.

The Democratic probe is looking into whether Mr Trump improperly pressured Ukraine to investigate his political rival Joe Biden.

A telephone call with Donald Trump emerged last month, the news has been bad for the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy. "But individuals who have been named in the press as contacts of Mr Giuliani may well have believed that their personal financial ambitions were stymied by our anti-corruption policy in Ukraine", she said.

What did the ambassador say?

An indictment filed in the case alleges that the men, who were raising campaign funds for a USA congressman, asked him for help in removing Yovanovitch, at least partly at the request of Ukrainian government officials. "This was precisely the time when continuity in the embassy in Ukraine was most needed".

On Friday, Mr Giuliani said: "I was doing it in my role as a defence lawyer" for Mr Trump. Prosecutors said they conspired to contribute foreign money, including at least $1 million from an unidentified Russian businessman, to candidates for federal and state offices to buy influence.

The former US ambassador to Ukraine told lawmakers Friday that President Donald Trump pressured the State Department to remove her as part of a concerted campaign against her. According to Yovanovitch, Sullivan said the president no longer wished for her to be his ambassador because he had lost confidence in her. "I want to express my appreciation for not just what a great champion she was for the rule of law in Ukraine, but also the respect she has for the rule of law here at home".

Yovanovitch was abruptly removed from her post earlier this year with very little explanation.

Yovanivitch, who was sworn in as ambassador to Ukraine in August 2016, had served in ambassadorships under three administrations.

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The whistleblower complaint noted her surprise dismissal was a red flag for some officials.

Yovanovitch appeared for her expected closed-door deposition before the House Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs Committees as part of their investigations into Trump's efforts to persuade Ukraine's new government to commit publicly to investigate corruption and the president's political opponents. The former vice president even boasted to the Council of Foreign Relations previous year that he had threatened to withhold $1 billion in US aid unless the prosecutor was sacked.

Two of Giuliani's associates, who had been helping him find material on the Bidens, were arrested on Wednesday night on election financing charges.

Schiff called Yovanovitch a "model diplomat" and expressed gratitude and "appreciation" for her coming to testify before members today.

Thus far, only Mr Volker, has testified before lawmakers.

The current ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, who is also at the centre of the impeachment row over Trump's conduct towards Ukraine, has said he will appear on Thursday, also in defiance of the state department gag.

Miller musings: White House aide Stephen Miller declined to tell reporters whether he would comply with a congressional subpoena, if ever presented one.

ABC News has repeatedly asked the State Department for comment on Yovanovitch's planned appearance.

Yovanovitch's reputation in the diplomatic corps and with foreign officials with whom she's dealt in her three-decade career does not square with Trump's characterization of her as "bad news".

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