George Kent Testimony: State Dept. Brass Told Hannity to Stop Smearing Marie Yovanovitch

Justin Baragona
Carlos Barria/Reuters

Top U.S. diplomat George Kent said in his impeachment testimony released Thursday that the State Department’s counselor contacted Fox News host Sean Hannity this spring to ask him to stop spreading smears about Marie Yovanovitch, the then-U.S. ambassador to Ukraine who drew the ire of Trumpworld.

Kent, who serves as the State Department’s deputy assistant secretary for European and Eurasian affairs, confirmed Yovanovitch’s testimony that the department reached out to the pro-Trump Fox star after Rudy Giuliani and other Trump allies began publicly attacking her following a report by John Solomon, a right-wing columnist and frequent Hannity guest.

Asked if he was aware of anyone from State reaching out to Sean Hannity in late March or early-April, Kent answered, “Yes.”

“I believe, to the best of my recollection, the counselor for the department, Ulrich Brechbuhl, reached out and suggested to Mr.Hannity that if there was no proof of the allegations, that he should stop covering them?” the diplomat added.

He went on to note that while he wasn’t completely certain who informed him of that via email, Kent indicated that it may have been either Brechbuhl or Acting Assistant Secretary Phil Reeker.

During her testimony, released earlier this week, Yovanovitch claimed that she was told that—following the ramp-up of conservative media attacks on her last March—Secretary of State Mike Pompeo or another state official would “place a call to Mr. Hannity” and find out “what is going on.”

Following the release of Yovanovitch’s testimony, Hannity claimed he didn’t “know anything” about the ex-ambassador and called such reports “fake news.” The Fox News star did admit, however, 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.” That “one question” was to Trump-supporting lawyer Joe diGenova, who has also found himself entangled in the Ukraine scandal in recent months.

Mentioning that the pro-Trump media attacks on Yovanovitch ramped up following Solomon’s interview with former Ukraine prosecutor general Yuriy Lutsenko, Kent noted in his testimony that Solomon’s report was actually based on lies.

“It was, if not entirely made up of full cloth, it was primarily non-truths and non-sequiturs,” Kent stated. In fact, one of the supposed bombshells of the interview—that Yovanovitch gave Lutsenko a do-not-prosecute list—was eventually retracted by the top prosecutor.

During his broadcast on Thursday night, Hannity addressed Kent’s testimony by declaring that he was “going to spell it out for all of you one more time.”

“I don’t know anything about that lady,” he reiterated. “I have no idea how to pronounce her last name, I never talked to Secretary Pompeo or anybody at the State Department about her or anything else, I don’t know anything about her.”

Hannity went on to demand that the media, who is reporting a State Department official’s testimony under oath, “stop lying” about him because he’s personally telling them the truth. 

After asserting that Yovanovitch was only mentioned in passing on his show in the past, Hannity went on to play a clip of Lutsenko making his since-retracted “do-not-prosecute” claim about Yovanovitch to Solomon. Hannity, however, made no mention of the fact that Lutsenko later walked that back or that Kent said the former top prosecutor had made everything up.

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