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US diplomats testify State Department misused for domestic politics

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WASHINGTON: Two US career diplomats told the Trump impeachment inquiry that they did not feel supported by the State Department under President Donald Trump and that the department was being used for domestic political purposes, according to transcripts of their testimony released on Monday.

The Democratic-led House of Representatives investigation into the Republican president is focused on a phone call in July in which Mr Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate political rival Joe Biden, a former vice-president and contender for the Democratic Party nomination to run against him.

Mr Michael McKinley, a former senior adviser to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, told the inquiry last month that he recommended a statement of support for ousted US ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, but was told Mr Pompeo decided "better not to... at this time".

"The timing of my resignation was the result of two overriding concerns: The failure, in my view, of the State Department to offer support to Foreign Service employees caught up in the impeachment inquiry; and, second, by what appears to be the utilisation of our ambassadors overseas to advance domestic political objectives," Mr McKinley said, according to the transcript.

Ms Yovanovitch, who was abruptly removed as ambassador last May, told the inquiry on Oct 11 that she felt threatened by Mr Trump describing her on the call to Mr Zelensky as "bad news" a transcript showed.

"I was very concerned," she said. "I still am."

A previously released White House summary of the call showed that Mr Trump told Mr Zelensky that the ambassador was "bad news" and was going to "go through some things".

Mr Trump has denied any wrongdoing and defended the call with Mr Zelensky as "perfect". - REUTERS