Rudy Giuliani smears former ambassador Marie Yovanovitch on Twitter and baselessly accuses her of 'obstructing justice'

Rudy Giuliani

Alex Wong/Getty Images

Rudy Giuliani.

  • The former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani continued a string of attacks on Tuesday against Marie Yovanovitch, the US's former ambassador to Ukraine who was abruptly ousted this year following a smear campaign against her by Giuliani and President Donald Trump.
  • "Yovanovitch needed to be removed for many reasons most critical she was denying visas to Ukrainians who wanted to come to US and explain Dem corruption in Ukraine," Giuliani tweeted on Tuesday morning. "She was OBSTRUCTING JUSTICE and that's not the only thing she was doing. She at minimum enabled Ukrainian collusion."
  • Giuliani's comments had no factual basis and trafficked in conspiracy theories about former Vice President Joe Biden and Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election.
  • Tuesday's tweet represents the latest in a slew of public attacks Giuliani has launched against Yovanovitch since returning from a trip to Ukraine last week.
  • His statements about the former ambassador are significant because Giuliani is under criminal investigation for potentially violating foreign lobbying laws related to his smear campaign against Yovanovitch.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Rudy Giuliani, the former New York mayor who currently serves as President Donald Trump's personal lawyer, doubled down early Tuesday on his criticisms of Marie Yovanovitch, the US's former ambassador to Ukraine.

Yovanovitch was abruptly recalled from her position earlier this year following what she and several others characterized as a smear campaign against her spearheaded by Giuliani at the president's direction.

On Monday, Giuliani told The New Yorker he "needed Yovanovitch out of the way" because "she was going to make the investigations difficult for everybody."

He was referring to two politically motivated investigations that Trump wanted Ukraine to launch. The first relates to former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, whom Trump and Giuliani have baselessly accused of corruption. The second is connected to a bogus conspiracy theory suggesting Ukraine interfered in the 2016 US election in coordination with the Democrats to help Hillary Clinton's campaign.

On Tuesday, Giuliani tweeted, "Yovanovitch needed to be removed for many reasons most critical she was denying visas to Ukrainians who wanted to come to US and explain Dem corruption in Ukraine."

"She was OBSTRUCTING JUSTICE and that's not the only thing she was doing," he added. "She at minimum enabled Ukrainian collusion."

Giuliani's tweets and statements about Yovanovitch are significant, given that he is under federal criminal investigation for potentially violating foreign lobbying laws related to his smear campaign against her. Yovanovitch's ouster is also a central thread of Congress' impeachment inquiry into the president.

Marie Yovanovitch

Associated Press

The first part of Giuliani's tweet referred to Viktor Shokin, the former Ukrainian prosecutor general whom Yovanovitch denied a visa to. Shokin was ousted following pressure from the US and the rest of the western world and financial institutions because of his record of corruption.

Shokin is central to Trumpworld's conspiracies about the Bidens. The former vice president was instrumental in pushing Shokin out, and Trump's allies have accused Biden of getting Shokin dismissed because he was investigating Burisma Holdings, the Ukrainian natural gas company whose board Hunter Biden sat on until earlier this year.

But those claims are inaccurate.

The investigation into Burisma was largely dormant at the time Shokin was ousted, and in fact, government officials and Ukrainian anticorruption advocates say Shokin had hampered the investigation into Burisma long before Biden even stepped into the picture, according to The Wall Street Journal.

In other words, Shokin was fired because he was slow-walking the Burisma probe, and his dismissal made it more likely the company would come under scrutiny.

It's unclear what Giuliani meant when he accused Yovanovitch of obstructing justice. There is no evidence that the former ambassador got in the way of any legal proceedings or investigations, and multiple nonpartisan, career foreign service officers and national security officials have defended her record as a diplomat who championed anticorruption and US interests across the globe.

impeachment hearings bill taylor

Reuters/Joshua Roberts

Bill Taylor took over Yovanovitch's position after she was dismissed. Taylor forcefully defended Yovanovitch's record when he testified before Congress last month.

The former New York mayor's reference to "Ukrainian collusion" points back to the conspiracy theory alleging Ukrainian meddling in the 2016 race. The US intelligence community determined with high confidence in 2017 that it was Russia, not Ukraine, that interfered in the election and that it did so to propel Trump to the Oval Office.

The conspiracy theory Giuliani and Trump are parroting, moreover, can be traced back to Russian President Vladimir Putin himself, who has pointed his finger at Ukraine to deflect allegations of Russian election interference.

Giuliani's tweet attacking Yovanovitch on Tuesday is the latest in a string of attacks he's made against her this week.

After returning from a trip to Ukraine as part of an ongoing effort to discover or manufacture dirt against Biden, Giuliani posted an extensive thread on Twitter detailing what he said was explosive information that would bury Biden and the Democrats and exonerate Trump.

A closer look at the videos he posted, which featured interviews with the far-right outlet One America News Network, show Giuliani continuing to traffic in unfounded conspiracy theories and little-to-no fact-based information.

On Monday evening, Giuliani told The New York Times there were "a lot of reasons to move [Yovanovitch]" from the ambassadorship. Once he decided he wanted Yovanovitch ousted, Giuliani compiled a dossier of false information about her and sent it to the State Department and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Giuliani said his briefings to Trump and Pompeo about Yovanovitch likely played a central role in their decision to dismiss her.

"I think my information did," Giuliani told The Times. "I don't know. You'd have to ask them. But they relied on it."

Later Monday, Giuliani also went on the Trump-friendly Fox News opinion program, The Ingraham Angle, and told host Laura Ingraham he "didn't need [Yovanovitch] out of the way" but that he "forced her out because she's corrupt."

Yovanovitch, meanwhile, has not publicly commented on the attacks against her outside of her testimony to House lawmakers in the impeachment inquiry.

"What continues to amaze me is that they found Americans willing to partner with them and working together, they apparently succeeded in orchestrating the removal of a US ambassador," Yovanovitch said, referring to corrupt Ukrainians who sought her ouster.

She added: "How could our system fail like this? How is it that foreign, corrupt interests could manipulate our government?"

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