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The inside story of Trump's alleged bribery of Ukraine . Public testimony in the impeachment hearings has painted a vivid picture of a president fixated on one thing: his own political gain over the fortunes of an ally
darkness had settled over Kyiv on the evening of 24 April when Marie Yovanovitch, then US ambassador to Ukraine, was summoned from an event she was hosting at her home to answer an urgent phone call from Washington.
The reception was to honor Kateryna Handzyuk, a young anti-corruption activist who died last year from an acid attack. Though the ambassador and the activist had never
met, they shared a mission: trying to end a culture of corruption that has persisted for decades in the former Soviet republic.“Kateryna paid the ultimate price for her fearlessness in fighting against corruption and for her determined efforts to build a democratic Ukraine,”
Yovanovitch said that evening, before presenting the Women of Courage award to Handzyuk’s father, Victor.Yovanovitch – who had spent 33 years in the US foreign service, serving six presidents, and who was viewed by colleagues and superiors as an exemplary
public servant – left her guests to answer the call at around 10pm. It was Carol Perez, the director general of the state department.“There’s trouble coming,” she warned Yovanovitch, according to testimony. The
concerns, she added, came from “up the street”, an unambiguous reference to the White House.Perez promised to find out more and call back at midnight. The minutes ticked by as Yovanovitch waited, racking her brain for answers.
It was a delicate moment for Ukraine’s young democracy, at war with Russia and in the midst of political transition. She had recently been asked to extend her service in Kyiv for another year, until 2020.
But she had for months been the target of a smear campaign led by a Ukrainian prosecutor and Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani. They wrongly accused her of disloyalty to the president and she believed that Giuliani saw her as a barrier to his interests
in Ukraine. Was it possible their effort had succeeded in having her removed?Finally, closer to 1am, the phone rang again.

“Come home immediately,” the ambassador was told. “Get on the next plane to the US.”
‘Quid pro quo’
The abrupt removal of an American ambassador raised the curtain on an extraordinary abuse-of-power drama threatening to unravel the Trump presidency. In private depositions and five nationally televised public hearings as part of the House of Representatives’
impeachment investigation, Trump administration officials past and present described Yovanovitch’s ousting and the events that followed as shocking, “deeply troubling” and a “nightmare scenario”.
In stark detail, they chronicled a concerted effort by the president and his allies to pressure on Ukraine to open investigations into Joe Biden, the former vice-president and a key political rival for Trump and a baseless and debunked conspiracy theory promoted by Russia that
Ukraine had interfered in the 2016 US election. The demands amounted to, in the words of one witness, a “domestic political errand” that diverged from US policy goals and benefited Washington’s adversary, Moscow.

Multiple witnesses recounted a quid pro quo – a “this for
that” pressure campaign – that involved Trump withholding $391m in military aid approved by Congress for Ukraine and refusing to meet with Volodymyr Zelenskiy, the country’s newly elected president, until he publicly pledged to investigate Trump’s political rivals.
A whistleblower complaint alleging White House officials had witnessed Trump leverage the power of the presidency for political gain in a conversation with Zelenskiy triggered the opening of a formal impeachment inquiry in September, only the fourth time in American history.
New details are still emerging as congressional investigators prepare to deliver a report on their investigation’s findings. Next week the judiciary committee will hold its first public impeachment hearing on the question of whether Trump’s dealings with Ukraine
amount to “high crimes and misdemeanors” as provided for in the constitution.

This is a comprehensive account of the critical events that have brought Trump to the edge of impeachment. From the Oval Office to the frontlines of Ukraine’s war with
Russia, it is based on dozens of hours of public testimony, thousands of pages of depositions conducted by congressional investigators, media interviews, online communications and other available records. In some instances, witnesses remember episodes differently and
their recollections are reflected accordingly.

Trump has denied all accusations of wrongdoing and insisted there was “no quid pro quo”.America’s mayor’
For months beginning in late 2018, Giuliani worked contacts in Ukraine, trying to get what his client – the president – wanted.
Once regarded as “America’s mayor” and now better recognized as the president’s henchman, Giuliani has insisted that his work was to defend Trump’s reputation and clear up rumors about 2016 election tampering. But witnesses said he had “more insidious” intentions:
manufacturing smears against Biden.

With the help of his Soviet-born associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, Giuliani made contact with the Ukrainian general prosecutor at the time, Yuriy Lutsenko, and his predecessor, Viktor Shokin. Both had complicated
relationships with Yovanovitch, and Lutsenko in particular “vowed revenge” on the ambassador, according to testimony.

In March 2019, the smear campaign against Yovanovitch ricocheted from articles in the US news outlet the Hill to Donald Trump Jr’s Twitter account.
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