Michael McKinley, a former Latin America expert at the U.S. State Department with no direct knowledge about Ukraine, gave an impeachment probe deposition behind closed doors Wednesday.
Some mainstream media outlets, however, suggested the former senior adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had first-hand knowledge of Ukraine.
The impeachment investigation centers on claims that U.S. President Donald Trump pressured Ukraine to investigate corruption allegations against Joe Biden and his son Hunter in exchange for aid.
The New York Times (NYT) noted.:
While Mr. McKinley told lawmakers that he did not have detailed knowledge about the Ukraine matter, he said the handling of the issue was emblematic of a troublesome trend at the State Department, the people familiar with his testimony said.
The Associated Press (AP) added:
McKinley, who as a Latin America expert was not specifically involved in Ukraine, was also frustrated that there had been no response to an August inspector general’s report that found significant evidence of leadership and management problems ….
Politico also reported:
Another former colleague told POLITICO that McKinley did not work directly on Ukraine-related issues but was concerned that standard diplomatic protocols were being sidelined in favor of a [Trump’s private lawyer Rudy] Giuliani-led campaign to discredit top U.S. officials who were unwilling to pursue politically motivated investigations of the president’s political opponents.
Some mainstream media outlets did not mention that McKinley did not have direct knowledge about Ukraine. Meanwhile, others, including NYT, AP, and Politico, buried that point in the middle of the article.
Before resigning from his position at State last week, McKinley had worked as a diplomat for more than 35 years, serving as an American ambassador to Afghanistan, Colombia, Peru, and Brazil.
Citing an official involved in the investigation, NYT reported that McKinley appeared for a deposition voluntarily, adding that House Democrats did not issue a subpoena.
McKinley testified that he was “disturbed’ by claims that Trump urged foreign governments to investigate his political rivals.
One of his former colleagues released excerpts of his testimony to the press, National Public Radio (NPR) acknowledged. McKinley testified:
I was disturbed by the implication that foreign governments were being approached to procure negative information on political opponents. I was convinced that this would also have a serious impact on foreign service morale and the integrity of our work overseas.
Republican lawmakers have called on House Democrats pursuing the impeachment probe to release the transcripts of depositions, to no avail. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA), the leader of the impeachment investigation, has pledged to release all the transcripts but refused to say when.
So far, House Democrats have conducted all depositions in private.
GOP lawmakers have also blasted Democrats for cherry-picking evidence and releasing bits and pieces of testimony that fit their impeachment narrative.
McKinley reportedly told lawmakers he quit his position over frustration with Pompeo’s refusal to defend career diplomats, particularly former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.
The Trump administration removed Yovanovitch from her ambassador position. She serves as a State Department fellow at Georgetown University.
Since I began my career in 1982, I have served my country and every president loyally. Under current circumstances, however, I could no longer look the other way as colleagues are denied the professional support and respect they deserve from us all.
Pompeo has pushed back against criticism that he is not standing up for State officials amid the impeachment probe, saying the investigation has incited a “silly gotcha game.”
Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), who witnessed McKinley’s testimony, spoke to reporters outside the closed-door deposition room, saying the former State official praised Pompeo.
“I think most of this is a concern by a colleague for an ambassador that he held in high regard,” Meadows reportedly declared. Pompeo listened in on the July 25 call between President Trump and his Ukrainian counterpart that triggered the impeachment probe.