Russian ambassador nominee breaks with Trump on Biden probe request

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Oct. 30 (UPI) — Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan told lawmakers Wednesday that asking a foreign government to investigate a political rival wouldn’t be “in accord with our values,” breaking from President Donald Trump, who nominated him to be the next ambassador to Russia.

Sullivan made the remarks during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

The hearing comes as the House conducts its own hearings and interviews as part of its impeachment inquiry sparked by Trump’s request for Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden.

Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., asked Sullivan his opinion on Trump’s request during a July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

“Soliciting investigations into our domestic political opponent — I don’t think that would be in accord with our values,” he said.

Sullivan was involved in recalling former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, who said Trump pressured the State Department to remove her from her post. She said Trump pulled her from Ukraine because she didn’t agree with “baseless conspiracy theories” that Ukraine tried to undermine Trump’s 2016 campaign.

Sullivan “added that there had been a concerted campaign against me, and that the Department had been under pressure from the President to remove me since the summer of 2018,” she said during a hearing in the House earlier this month. “He also said that I had done nothing wrong and that this was not like other situations where he had recalled ambassadors for cause.”

Sullivan told the Senate panel Wednesday that though Yovanovitch “served capably and admirably,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told him “the president had lost confidence with her.” He said he never received an explanation other than that.