President Donald Trump's pick to be U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan said on Wednesday that he knew that Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani was involved in a smear campaign against the then-Ambassador to Ukraine that helped lead to her dismissal..
Sullivan, the deputy secretary of state, made the comments when he was questioned by ranking Democratic Senator Bob Menendez during his Senate confirmation hearing….
(SOUNDBITE) DEMOCRATIC SEN.
BOB MENENDEZ SAYING: "You were aware that there were individuals outside the state department that were seeking to smear Yovanovitch?
And seeking to remove her?" (SOUNDBITE) JOHN SULLIVAN, TRUMP'S U.S. AMBASSADOR TO RUSSIA NOMINEE, SAYING: "I was… Menendez: And did you know that Mr. Giuliani was one of those people?
Sullivan: 'I believed he was, yes' The former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch was abruptly recalled in May on what she called 'unfounded and false claims' after she came under attack by Trump allies..
Giuliani has accused Yovanovitch of blocking efforts to persuade Ukraine to investigate Trump's Democratic political rival Joe Biden and his son Hunter… Sullivan said Yovanovitch served her position admirably but he was asked to remove her because the president (quote) 'lost confidence in her'..
Menendez/Sullivan SOT Yovanovitch's dismissal has been a focus in the Democratic-led House of Representatives' impeachment inquiry... Congressional investigators are trying to determine whether Trump offered the Ukraine president a "quid pro quo," allegedly withholding nearly $400 million dollars in U.S. security assistance in exchange for getting dirt on a political opponent… Menendez on Wednesday asked Sullivan if it was 'ever appropriate' for a president to do that… (SOUNDBITE) DEMOCRATIC SEN.
BOB MENENDEZ SAYING: "Do you think it's ever appropriate for the president to use his office to solicit investigations into a domestic political opponent?" (SOUNDBITE) JOHN SULLIVAN, TRUMP'S U.S. AMBASSADOR TO RUSSIA NOMINEE, SAYING: "Soliciting information?
I don't think that would be in accord with our values…" If confirmed, Sullivan would become the U.S. Ambassador to Russia, replacing former Utah governor
Class="kln">John Huntsman who resigned after two years in the post....