Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch on Friday admitted that private U.S. citizens meeting with U.S. and Ukrainian officials — even if they are working on presidential campaigns and lobbying for certain causes — is not an unusual thing.
The acknowledgment came under questioning from Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH), member of the House Intelligence Committee conducting the impeachment inquiry.
Yovanovitch, who was the ambassador in Ukraine until her removal in May, testified Friday that there was an informal channel on U.S.-Ukraine foreign policy that involved U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, U.S. Special Envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, and the president’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.
Turner asked Yovanovitch if she would agree that Richard Holbrooke, who died in 2010, was a “man of great reputation.”
“Yes,” Yovanovitch agreed.
Turner then asked her if it would surprise her if a member of the John Kerry 2004 presidential campaign traveled to Ukraine in July 2004 to meet with Ukrainian officials and the U.S. ambassador there at the time. “Does that surprise you?”
Yovanovitch, puzzled, responded, “Not necessarily. What was the context?”
Turner asked her, “Would you have taken that meeting, if a member of John Kerry’s team traveled to Ukraine, would you have taken that meeting?”
She responded, “I guess it would depend on what the purpose of the meeting was.”
Turner told Yovanovitch:
Well that meeting actually occurred, and it was with [Richard] Holbrooke — Richard Holbrooke was a private citizen, traveled to Ukraine, met with the U.S. ambassadors, met with Ukrainian officials, he was also there on about HIV/AIDS, which was in addition something the Clinton Foundation was working on. So we have an official of the Kerry campaign in 2004 as a private citizen meeting with the ambassador in Ukraine. Is that unusual?
Yovanovitch responded, “We meet with private individuals all the time.”
Turner concluded, “It probably wasn’t unusual for Giuliani either.”
Holbrooke at the time of his visit to Ukraine with U.S. and Ukrainian officials was a private citizen, a member of Kerry’s presidential campaign in 2004, CEO of the Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS, and working for the Clinton Foundation.
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