Defying a pledge by the White House to stonewall the impeachment probe, former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch testified on Friday that she was removed from her post based on "unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives.” That's according to a copy of her opening statement obtained by The New York Times, which also reported that a top State Department official told Yovanovitch that Trump had pushed for her removal for months even though the department believed she had “done nothing wrong.” Her testimony reportedly also warned of private influence and personal gain taking priority over the judgment of diplomats in what the Times characterized as a scathing indictment of the Trump administration’s approach to foreign policy.
The closed-door deposition could bolster House Democrats' argument for approving articles of impeachment against the president in the House.
Trump has called Yovanovitch "bad news" and Giuliani alleged she blocked his efforts to persuade Ukraine to investigate political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden and his son.
Those efforts now the subject of a House impeachment investigation into whether Trump sought foreign interference in the 2020 election.
On Thursday, two of Giuliani's associates were arrested in what New York federal prosecutors said was a scheme to illegally funnel money to a pro-Trump election committee through a shell company called Fraud Guarantee.
Lev Parnas, a Ukrainian-American businessman, and Igor Fruman, who are mentioned in the whistleblower complaint that sparked the impeachment probe, are also accused by prosecutors of acting on behalf of Ukrainian officials and using their political connections to get Yovanovitch recalled.
Earlier this week, the Trump administration blocked another key witness from testifying, U.S. ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland.
But his lawyers now say he will come back to testify before the House committees next Thursday.