Washington (CNN)Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has become increasingly frustrated in recent weeks by the departure of top State Department officials and claims that he failed to defend the former US Ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, from a smear campaign against her, according to three sources familiar with the situation.
As part of the ongoing impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, Yovanovitch testified to Congress this week that she was unfairly removed based on false claims pushed by Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.
One of the sources tell CNN that Pompeo was alerted to internal and external concerns about Giuliani’s effort to push out Yovanovitch, but Pompeo failed to act — he was wary of getting too deeply involved over fears of derailing US-Ukraine policy and potentially sharing the fate of his former colleague John Bolton, Trump’s national security adviser who was fired for not being aligned with the President.
In a letter sent in the spring, which has not been previously reported, a handful of former US ambassadors to Ukraine urged top State Department officials to take action and defend Yovanovitch. They got a response from one of Pompeo’s closest senior officials, Counselor Ulrich Brechbuhl, saying the message had been received and would be considered.
Yet Pompeo did nothing and less than two months later, Yovanovitch was recalled from her post at the behest of Trump.