While Tuesday was a day of complete no-shows, Wednesday is expected to bring something not yet seen this week by the House impeachment inquiry—actual testimony. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale arrived on Capitol Hill Wednesday morning and is expected to give his deposition for the inquiry.
Hale is the highest-ranking State Department official to appear before the House inquiry. His testimony is expected to focus on the circumstances around the early dismissal of former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch. And that testimony could take an odd turn. Earlier, former State Department senior adviser Michael McKinley testified that he resigned his position in part because Secretary of State Mike Pompeo refused to defend Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch against attacks instigated by Rudy Giuliani. The Associated Press indicates that Hale is going to testify that Pompeo allowed Yovanovitch to go down without pushing back in order to … help Ukraine.
Not that Yovanovitch was doing anything wrong, or was hurting Ukraine. But supposedly, because defending Yovanovitch would have ”hurt the effort to free up U.S. military assistance to Ukraine.”
That is, Hale is going to say that the State Department let one of its most respected and senior diplomats be sidelined by rumor and character assassination on purpose. Because they knew that Trump had it out for her, thanks to the claims Giuliani had sent to the White House. And Hale is going to now testify that he and Pompeo let Yovanovitch get run over, because that was a good thing.
Hale’s own personal contribution to this whole mess appears to have been to bravely run away. He took himself off of email chains related to Yovanovitch and refused to answer questions about the ambassador. Meanwhile, Hale insisted that the actions he and Pompeo were taking were “politically smart.” Smart, as in apparently the thing that could be done that most protected Hale and Pompeo.
The idea that sacrificing Marie Yovanovitch to Donald Trump’s unreasonable demands was somehow “smart” or good because it was necessary to convince Trump to release his hold on Ukrainian military assistance isn’t just logically twisted. It’s nauseating. And it certainly seems to indicate that Hale and Pompeo were aware of Trump’s intention to hold up assistance to Ukraine even before it cleared Pentagon approval at the end of May.
Unlike some others in this whole sorry affair, Hale is a longtime State Department official who has served as ambassador to several posts in the Middle East. Which only makes his participation in this that much uglier.