Donald Trump has reprimanded his former Ukraine ambassador who testified in the impeachment inquiry for not hanging his picture in the embassy during an unrepentant Fox News interview.
Calling into the broadcaster’s morning show, Fox & Friends, Mr Trump repeated claims which witnesses had dismissed as false during more than 40 minutes of largely one-way dialogue.
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Mr Trump singled out Marie Yovanovitch, the Ukraine ambassador who blamed a “smear” campaign pushed by the president’s allies for her removal from the post earlier this year, for renewed criticism.
Despite Ms Yovanovitch’s instance in testimony last week that claims she was opposed to Mr Trump or worked against him were categorically false, the president echoed many of those allegations.
“This ambassador that, you know, everybody says is so wonderful, she wouldn’t hang my picture in the embassy, okay”, Mr Trump said.
“She’s in charge of the embassy. She wouldn’t hang it. It took like a year and a half or two years for her to get the picture up.
“She said bad things about me, she wouldn’t defend me and I have the right to change an ambassador.”
Mr Trump said Ms Yovanovitch, whose testimony had been greeted with applause and a standing ovation by members of the public in the room, was “not an angel”.
“This was not a baby that we’re dealing with,” he said.
Throughout the interview Mr Trump was similarly dismissive of criticism of his behaviour towards Ukraine that has followed new revelations from five days of public impeachment hearings.
Mr Trump repeated the idea that Ukraine somehow meddled in the 2016 US election, despite one witness calling that a “fictional narrative” which was being pushed by Russia’s security services.
The president once again suggested the Democratic National Committee’s email server, which had been hacked during the campaign, may be in Ukraine. Pushed for evidence to back up the claim, Mr Trump said “that’s what the word is”.
He also defended the involvement of his personal attorney, the former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, in pursuing an investigation into Joe Biden, Mr Trump’s political rival, and the Ukraine election meddling claims.
“Rudy Giuliani was one of the great crime fighters of all time,” Mr Trump said, insisting it was legitimate to try and uncover “corruption”.
Mr Biden, the former US vice president and Democrat who Mr Trump could face in the 2020 election, has always denied any wrongdoing in his dealings with Ukraine while in office.
Mr Trump also claimed he had saved Hong Kong from being destroyed by persuading Chinese President Xi Jinping to hold off on sending in troops to crush its pro-democracy movement.
He said: "If it weren’t for me, Hong Kong would have been obliterated in 14 minutes."