Key lawmaker says Marie Yovanovitch ‘1000%’ misled Congress, DOJ should investigate

NY GOP Rep. Lee Zeldin calling for review of testimony of Yovanovitch and others.

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MarieYovanovitch
Former Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch testifies during impeachment.
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Last Updated:
May 15, 2020 - 9:39am

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The former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine "1000%" misled Congress during last year's impeachment hearings when she claimed she didn't know much about the controversial Burisma Holdings company and the Justice Department needs to investigate, Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., says.

Zeldin reacted Thursday after documents published by Just the News earlier this week showed Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch met with a Burisma representative, received correspondence from the Ukraine gas company that hired Hunter Biden and received a detailed briefing on the matter during the 2016 election.

Yovanovitch, testifying before the House Intelligence Committee's impeachment inquiry last fall, said that she knew little about the company, especially as it pertained to the Biden. She testified most of what she knew was from a briefing before she headed to run the U.S. embassy in Kiev and from news reports.

“It just wasn’t a big deal,” she said under oath.

Hunter Biden is the son of former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive 2020 Democratic presidential nominee. He served on the Burisma board, and his firm received roughly $3.4 million in fees from the company. Critics argue Biden had little expertise in that area and got the job because of his political connections. 

Zeldin, an intelligence committee member who led the questioning during some of Yovanovitch's testimony, told the John Solomon Reports podcast that “It was unbelievable” that she and others “were acting as if they didn’t know anything about this.”

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Amid the now publicly available documentation — including letters, briefing materials, and emails for Yovanovitch pertaining to Hunter Biden’s ties to Burisma and the gas firm's efforts to rehab its reputation for corruption — questions are being raised about whether she misled Congress when she claimed to have no more than slight, superficial knowledge of Burisma based largely on press accounts.

Zeldin emphatically believes she did, saying, “1000%, there’s no other way to cut it. ... It would be unbelievable to try to imagine that Ambassador Yovanovitch, Princeton-educated, well regarded for her intellect by many who speak out strongly on her behalf, that she would forget every single one of these meetings, discussions, emails, all of that traffic that is documented.”

“That she would not remember any of it," Zeldin said, "that’s just not possible.” 

Yovanovitch and her lawyer Lawrence Robbins did not respond to emailed requests for comment this week.

When asked about what options Congress has for holding accountable Yovanovitch and others who might have given evasive testimony, Zeldin said that he’s viewing this “as part of a larger issue … of people lying to Congress.”

“There should be investigations and accountability,” he said, suggesting DOJ should investigate.

“If the tables were turned, and it was [former Director of National Intelligence] James Clapper lying and [former U.N. Ambassador Samantha] Power lying and these others lying, to take out a President Hillary Clinton or a President Barack Obama ... there would undoubtedly be perjury investigations,” he said. “There need to be consequences about double standards.”

For Yovanovitch specifically, Zeldin said that an investigation would require figuring out if the ambassador had reviewed any of the documents that she claimed to have no recollection of receiving. If it can be determined that she did review them, it becomes easier to prove that she lied to Congress.

Zeldin said “it’s illegal for someone to come testify before Congress and lie, but there’s no consequences if Congress itself lies.”

Zeldin was referring to California Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

“We know what should happen right now between now and November as far as accountability for Adam Schiff,” Zeldin said. “There should be a censure, there should be a resignation. He should lose his gavel … But Nancy Pelosi isn’t going to do that. The reason why Adam Schiff is the chair of this committee is to do exactly what he’s done ... He’s such a good liar.”