State Department Ukraine Expert Raises Concerns About ‘Fake News Smear’ Against Marie Yovanovitch

WASHINGTON, DC – OCTOBER 15: U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs George Kent arrives at a closed session before the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees October 15, 2019 at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC. Kent was on Capitol Hill to testify to the committees as part of the ongoing impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump. 

As high-ranking State Department employees continue to defy the White House by testifying before House investigative panels, information related to the Ukraine scandal continues to pile up against the Trump Administration and the president’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani. George Kent, the deputy assistant secretary of state in charge of Ukraine policy, appeared before the House Oversight, Foreign Affairs, and Intel Committees on Tuesday despite reports that he was explicitly directed not to appear by the State Department.

Internal State Department emails obtained by The New York Times show Kent, a career diplomat and Ukraine expert, denounced news reports attacking former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch as a “fake news smear” spearheaded by Trump-allied conservative media personalities. According to the Times, in one of his emails, Kent also castigated the Ukrainian prosecutor promoting false stories about Yovanovitch, characterizing the claims as “complete poppycock.”

It was also reported that Kent had been attempting to sound the alarm about President Donald Trump and Giuliani’s efforts to pressure Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky to launch an investigation into Democratic presidential frontrunner Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden. According to the report, Kent began voicing his concern with the administration’s decision to bring Giuliani into the fray as early as March, telling colleagues that the former New York City mayor’s appeared to be engaged in little more than a “disinformation” campaign aimed at maligning President Trump’s political opponents. Trump mentioned Yovanovitch, but not by name, on the July 25 call with Zelensky. He referred to her as “bad news.”

Kent’s appearance on Capitol Hill came just one day after former White House advisor to Europe Fiona Hill defied the White House’s request and testified before the Congressional Committees and two days before U.S. ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland is expected to appear under subpoena.

Ambassador Sondland has already been at the center of controversy after text messages revealed that some U.S. diplomats were alarmed by the administration appearing to withhold security assistance from Ukraine in exchange for political favors. Sondland, who responded to those concerns by writing “The President has been crystal clear: no quid pro quo’s of any kind,” is expected to tell Congress that the denial was dictated by President Trump and may not have been truthful.

[image via Alex Wong/Getty Images]

Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.

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