A State Department official responsible for Ukraine told Congress on Tuesday that he was instructed to “lay low” and leave the issue to the “three amigos”—Energy Secretary Rick Perry, U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, and special U.S. envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker. Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-VA) told reporters Tuesday that George Kent, the deputy assistant secretary of state responsible for Ukraine, said Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney organized a meeting in May where officials determined that Ukraine policy would be diverted from official channels. Instead, Perry, Sondland, and Volker would effectively be in charge of Ukraine matters. According to The Washington Post, the meeting happened just days after former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch was ousted from her post. Yovanovitch previously told Congress that the White House had pressured the State Department to boot her from her role.
Kent reportedly spoke to the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees for several hours on Tuesday as part of the impeachment inquiry into President Trump—which was prompted by a whistleblower complaint alleging that the president pressured Ukraine to investigate corruption accusations against former Vice President Joe Biden and his son.