A top State Department official testified that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called Fox News host Sean Hannity to ask him to stop smearing then-Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch.
Yovanovitch was ousted from her position after a smear campaign led by Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, she and other officials testified to Congress.
The smear was based on reporting by conservative columnist John Solomon at The Hill, which cited former Ukrainian Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko claiming that Yovanovitch gave him a “do not prosecute list.” Lutsenko, who was forced out of his own position over corruption concerns, later retracted his statements.
Solomon, a frequent Hannity guest, has not retracted his report and pushed the refuted report on Fox. Hannity pushed the claim as well.
State Dept official testifies Pompeo asked Hannity to stop:
David Hale, the third-ranking official at the State Department, testified that Pompeo called Hannity to ask him to stop smearing Yovanovitch.
“It did come up at some point with the secretary,” Hale said. “I understood that he did call Sean Hannity.”
Hale said that Pompeo told Hannity that if there was any truth to the smears, “I need to see what the evidence is.”
Yovanovitch similarly testified that Pompeo called Hannity about the attacks.
She told Congress that Pompeo “was going to place a call to Mr. Hannity on Fox News to say, you know, ‘what is going on? I mean, do you have proof of these kinds of allegations or not? And if you have proof, you know, tell me, and if not, stop.’”
"I understand that that call was made,” she added. “I don’t know whether it was the Secretary of somebody else in his inner circle. And for a time, you know, things kind of simmered down.”
Hannity previously called Yovanovitch’s account “fake news,” though he acknowledged that “her name came up a few times on the show” and that he “did ask one question about a news report if she was involved in something.”
“I was just told by my team, so apparently David Hale’s testimony was released a short time ago and he says in the transcript it was his understanding that Pompeo called me to ask you what evidence you had of allegations regarding Yovanovitch,” he told legal analyst Gregg Jarrett on Monday. “Gregg, how many times do I have to say it. We barely mentioned this woman! Four times in passing. No, I never got a call from Secretary of State Pompeo or anybody else. Why would they lie about this?”
“You are being smeared,” Jarrett said. “Donald Trump has been smeared for three years.”