Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for November 15, 2019

Newsline: Embassy Staffer Overheard Trump Asking About Ukraine ‘Investigations’

A second U.S. Embassy staffer in Kyiv overheard a cellphone call between President Donald Trump and his ambassador to the European Union discussing a need for Ukrainian officials to pursue “investigations,” The Associated Press has learned. The July 26 call between Trump and Gordon Sondland was first described during testimony Wednesday by William Taylor, the acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine. Taylor said one of his staffers overhead the call while Sondland was in a Kyiv restaurant the day after Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy that triggered the House impeachment inquiry. (https://ktla.com/2019/11/14/2nd-embassy-staffer-overheard-trump-asking-about-ukraine-investigations-source-says-after-ambassador-revealed-call/) The second diplomatic staffer also at the table was Suriya Jayanti, a foreign service officer based in Kyiv. A person briefed on what Jayanti overheard spoke to AP on condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive matter currently under investigation. The accounts of the two embassy staffers could tie Trump closer to alleged efforts to hold up military aid to Ukraine in exchange for investigations into political rival Joe Biden and his son Hunter’s business dealings. In defending Trump on Wednesday, Republicans repeatedly highlighted that Taylor never directly heard the president direct anyone to demand that the Ukrainians open the probe.

Newsline: African Union Fires Ambassador To U.S.

The African Union fired its U.S. ambassador this month. Her supporters say it was because of her anti-colonial speeches. However, a recent AU internal report alleges abuse of funds and office. (https://www.npr.org/2019/11/14/779208240/african-union-fires-ambassador-to-u-s) The African Union has ended the term of its charismatic and outspoken ambassador to the United States. Tens of thousands have come to her defense, claiming she’s been unfairly targeted for her anti-colonial speech. But an internal investigation report obtained by NPR paints a different picture of the ambassador Dr. Arikana Chihombori-Quao, one of a rogue, corrupt and self-dealing diplomat.