Secretary of State Mike Pompeo‘s executive secretary Lisa Kenna described the smear campaign by President Donald Trump‘s lawyer Rudy Giuliani against Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, in 2019, as “deeply disturbing.”

During 2019, Giuliani worked to smear Yovanovitch and oust her from her office.

Kenna told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that she was unaware of the substance of Giuliani’s outreach at the time. But now she claims that she knows that it was all an effort to discredit Yovanovitch. Giuliani had placed calls and delivered documents to Pompeo that came from Ukrainian figures that the State Department views as corrupt.

Kenna said, “At the time, I did not know what the documents were about. It’s deeply disturbing.”


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The committee is currently vetting Kenna to be the U.S. Ambassador to Peru.

Yovanovitch testified against Trump in the impeachment proceedings, which began with Trump’s July 25, 2019, phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. 

Kenna frequently acted as a conduit for Giuliani’s outreach to the State Department. 

During the House impeachment proceedings, Democrats alleged that Giuliani’s efforts to oust Yovanovitch were part of a campaign to discredit an official who stood in the way of Trump’s attempt to pressure the Ukrainian government into investigating the likely 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden on false charges.

Kenna told lawmakers that she did not review the materials that Giuliani transferred to Pompeo even though she often looked at papers he sent to him.

Kenna said, “I was aware that he delivered a package … I was not aware of the contents, nor did I review that package.”

Kenna also said in hindsight that she is bothered by what she now knows Giuliani was attempting to do. She added that the ouster of Yovanovitch was “unfortunate.”

“It was a very painful and difficult time… I absolutely respect Ambassador Yovanovitch. She’s one of our strongest career ambassadors … the consummate career professional,” Kenna said.

“It was very difficult to see what she went through at that time,” Kenna continued.

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