Trump impeachment inquiry: George Kent opening statement In Full- BBC News

George Kent, a state department official overseeing policy on Ukraine, is delivering his opening statement, describing an effort by Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani to “smear” US officials in Ukraine.

“It was unexpected, and most unfortunate, to watch some Americans – including those who allied themselves with corrupt Ukrainians in pursuit of private agendas – launch attacks on dedicated public servants advancing US interests in Ukraine.

“In my opinion, those attacks undermined US and Ukrainian national interests and damaged our critical bilateral relationship.”

“As a general principle, I do not believe the United States should ask other countries to engage in selective, politically associated investigations or prosecutions against opponents of those in power, because such selective actions undermine the rule of law regardless of the country,” he added.

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Kent goes on to say that from 2018 to 2019 he “became increasingly aware” of efforts by Giuliani and “his associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, to run a campaign to smear” the US ambassador to Kyiv. Parnas and Fruman, who are Soviet-born US citizens, were arrested in Florida for campaign finance violations last month.

He said some Ukrainians, including former “corrupt” prosecutors, “were now peddling false information in order to exact revenge against those who had exposed their misconduct, including US diplomats, Ukrainian anti-corruption officials, and reform-minded civil society groups in Ukraine”.

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