Two senior American diplomats warned congressional investigators a White House plot to manufacture political dirt on Joe Biden in Ukraine had undermined US national security interests and shredded faith among foreign service personnel, according to transcripts released on Monday by committees pursuing an impeachment inquiry against Donald Trump.
One of the diplomats, former ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, described her “shock” to discover that Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal emissary who has also worked for Ukrainian and Russian interests, was attempting to destroy her reputation.
When she sought advice on how to staunch the attack, she said, she was told to tweet something nice about Trump.
The second diplomat, P Michael McKinley, described how his dawning awareness of the White House plot to attack Biden, combined with the failure of the state department to support Yovanovitch, led him to resign.
“To see the emerging information on the engagement of our missions to procure negative political information for domestic purposes,” McKinley testified, “combined with the failure I saw in the building to provide support for our professional cadre in a particularly trying time, I think the combination was a pretty good reason to decide … I had no longer a useful role to play.”
Trump and his supporters continue to deny allegations the White House withheld almost $400m in military aid and the promise of a White House meeting until Ukraine announced investigations that could harm Biden, a frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination.
But a summary of a call between Trump and Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, provided evidence of a quid pro quo, which has been backed by testimony from more than a dozen officials and admitted by some Republicans – who claim it is not impeachable conduct.
The committees leading the impeachment inquiry released the transcripts as four White House officials failed to respond to subpoenas, in an abrupt escalation of Trump’s defiance of Congress.
Trump, meanwhile, sparked an outcry by beginning to lift a veil on the identity of the official whose complaint sparked the impeachment inquiry, in spite of federal laws making it a crime to threaten or take action against government whistleblowers.