Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan, President Trump’s pick to be the next ambassador to Russia, told a Senate confirmation hearing that requesting a foreign government to investigate a U.S. political opponent would not align with American values.
Mr. Sullivan told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Wednesday that “soliciting investigations into a domestic political opponent, I don’t think that would be in accord with our values.”
His remarks come at the height of an impeachment inquiry into Mr. Trump, who Democrats charge requested that Kyiv investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, who formerly served on the board of a Ukraininan gas company.
Mr. Sullivan also told the panel that there was no policy or performance basis behind the abrupt recall earlier this year of Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, who raised questions about Trump adviser Rudy Giuliani’s unofficial talks with Ukrainian officials about Mr. Biden.
“I was told that the president lost confidence in her. Period,” he said, adding that lost confidence is a reason to remove an official.
Ms. Yovanovitch’s ouster was one of the key moves that sparked the impeachment inquiry after a whistleblower came forward with concerns about Mr. Trump was conditioning military aid to Ukraine on new President Volodomyr Zelensky pledging to investigate the Bidens and potential Ukrainian tampering in the 2016 presidential election as well.
“When the president loses confidence in the ambassador, right or wrong, the ambassador needs to come home,” Mr. Sullivan added.
Mr. Sullivan told New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez, the committee’s ranking Democrat, that “my knowledge in the spring and summer of this year about any involvement of Mr. Giuliani was in connection with a campaign against our ambassador to Ukraine.”