Career diplomat Phillip Reeker told Congressional investigators behind closed doors what he knew about the ouster of Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, according to a source with direct knowledge of his testimony Saturday in the impeachment inquiry.
Yovanovitch, a well-respected expert on Ukraine, has said that she was fired by the direction of President Donald Trump at the recommendation of Rudy Giuliani.
In his testimony, Reeker, who oversaw Ukraine policy at the State Department, corroborated what previous witnesses have said, according to both Republicans and Democrats who sat in the session.
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Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C, said that Reeker’s deposition echoed previous testimony from former U.S. envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker.
“When we look at what Ambassador Volker said, the very first witness to come in, and take it through the witnesses that we’ve had today, it becomes much more clear that the promise or leverage of foreign aid for some kind of political favor was more chatter and certainly was not supported by any directive or edict,” Meadows said.
Reeker also discussed the “three amigos” — European Union Gordon Sondland, Volker and Energy Secretary Rick Perry, the president’s confidantes — that the administration put in charge of Ukraine policy after Yovanovitch was recalled from her position in May, Meadows said.
Reeker is also said to have spoken “slightly” about Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s role.
“Just slightly. Again, I can’t get into the details. But, you know, certainly there are questions, but again, nothing, nothing very revealing other than what we’ve heard already,” Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., said.
Democrats indicated that Reeker knew more than they had anticipated. He was “a reservoir of information,” Rep. Steven Lynch, D-Mass., said.
But Republicans largely dismissed the significance of his testimony.
“I don’t see him as being directly involved with first-hand knowledge.I don’t see him being directly involved,” said Meadows, who noted that Reeker offered “meticulous” testimony and often referred to a 3-inch binder he brought with him.
Reeker raised concerns in March, ultimately, to his superior and close Pompeo ally, State Department Counsel Ulrich Brechbuhl, about the “fake narrative” being spread in conservative media about Yovanovitch, according to documents the Intelligence Committee’s Inspector General turned over to Congress. Congressional investigators subpoenaed Brechbuhl on Friday.