When Foreign Policy Becomes a Domestic Political Errand

For some people, the firing of Ukrainian Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch seemed tangential to the events that triggered an impeachment inquiry. I’ve already written that her ouster was part of the second quid pro quo that ensured the cooperation of corrupt Ukrainian prosecutors in providing dirt for Giuliani and Trump to use against Joe Biden. That was recently confirmed in a report by Josh Kovensky.

The Ukrainian official who promised dirt to Rudy Giuliani said that he tied pressure for the firing of Marie Yovanovitch to the investigations sought by President Donald Trump.

Former Ukraine Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko said in an interview with the Ukraine news website Ukrainska Pravda that during a January 2019 meeting in New York City, he and Giuliani discussed the prospect of a joint U.S.-Ukraine inquiry into Burisma, a Ukrainian gas company that Trump’s personal attorney and his allies have sought to use as a political cudgel against Joe Biden.

During that discussion, Lutsenko told the publication, he and Giuliani “exchanged thoughts about the role of Marie Yovanovitch.”

But I was struck by the testimony of several people during the impeachment hearings about how Gordon Sondland presented the idea that, even though he was the Ambassador to the European Union, the president had put him in charge of diplomatic efforts with Ukraine. On Wednesday, Sondland stated that he had stepped into that role because, with the ouster of Yovanovitch, there was no ambassador to Ukraine. So Sondland took over—which left the three amigos (Sondland, Volker, and Perry) in charge.

During her testimony on Thursday, Fiona Hill captured how that played out.

Hill explained that Sondland was involved in a “domestic political errand, and we were involved in national security foreign policy, and those two things had just diverged.” When Ambassador Taylor talked about a “regular” and “irregular” channel at work, that is what he was referring to. Trump and his allies knew that they had to get Ambassador Yovanovitch out of the way to open up a lane for the domestic political errand, which involved aiming Ukranian corruption at Joe Biden and the 2020 election.

As Sondland told Holmes, the president doesn’t give a s—t about Ukraine or our national security. He only cares about “big stuff” that benefits the president. For all of the huffing and puffing from Republicans, that’s what all of this comes down to: a president who corrupted our foreign policy and used his office to further his own interests.

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Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly. Follow her on Twitter @Smartypants60.