Marie Yovanovitch testified as part of the public impeachment hearings that Rudy Giuliani worked with Fox News host Sean Hannity and Fox News contributor John Solomon, among others, to push and amplify a smear campaign that ultimately led to her ouster as the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.
“I do not understand Mr. Giuliani’s motives for attacking me, nor can I offer an opinion on whether he believed the allegations he spread about me,” Yovanovitch said in her opening statement. “Clearly, no one at the State Department did."
Yovanovitch testified that Solomon, then a conservative columnist at political website The Hill, assisted Giuliani by writing about false allegations made by former Ukrainian prosecutor Yuriy Lutsenko that she gave him a do-not-prosecute list to help Democrat Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. The State Department called the claims “an outright fabrication” and, in April, Lutsenko retracted his statements.
Solomon’s reporting was featured widely on Fox News, especially by Hannity, an outspoken supporter and informal adviser to the president. Yovanovitch was mentioned numerous times on Hannity’s show, including on March 20, when Joseph diGenova, a lawyer for President Donald Trump, called for her to be removed as ambassador due to her “assault on the president of the United States.”
These allegations were also repeated across a host of right-wing media websites, by popular figures such as radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh, and even by Trump himself, which Yovanovitch said made her concerned.
“I was worried," Yovanovitch said, testifying that she was aware of the smear campaign being pushed on several prime time Fox News opinion shows. “These attacks were being repeated by the president himself and his son.”
“If you’re a Fox viewer, you are hearing right now a credible witness under oath dismantle narratives the network’s highest rated shows have fed to you for the last several months,” wrote CNN media reporter Oliver Darcy.
Fox News declined to comment on Yovanovitch’s comments.
Following the release of the whistle-blower complaint in September, Solomon wrote on Twitter: “I stand by my stories 100 percent, all of which are completely accurate and transparent. We embedded the documents and videos we collected in each story for all to see.”
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On his Fox News show Thursday night, Hannity once again denied having a role in pushing for Yovanovitch’s ouster, claiming her name was “only mentioned in passing — we could only find about four times.”
But Solomon and diGenova have been frequent guests on Hannity’s program, mentioning Ukraine often. According to left-leaning media watchdog Media Matters, Solomon has appeared on Hannity “over 100 times in 2018 and 2019," while diGenova has made at least 37 appearances during that same period.
Following the first break in the hearing, Fox News Sunday anchor Chris Wallace discussed the smear campaign, saying it “came from Rudy Giuliani and some of his cohorts and was repeated in some outlets and right-wing media,” but failed to name his Fox News colleagues, who also pushed the allegations.