Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan went before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday to seek confirmation to become the U.S. ambassador to Russia.
In such appearances, candidates for ambassadorships usually make a point not to offend the president who appointed them. Sullivan appeared to follow that course, but one wouldn’t know it from the mainstream media reports.
“Trump’s Russia ambassador pick breaks with him over Ukraine phone call,” read the headline at the far-left site Politico. “Trump’s Russia ambassador pick breaks with president on Ukraine call,” wrote Salon in its headline. “Soliciting probes into a domestic political rival is ‘not in accord with our values,’ John Sullivan said,” read the subhead.
At the New York Times, the headline read: “Top State Department Official Confirms Smear Campaign Against Ousted Ukraine Envoy,” a reference to former ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, whom both the president of the United States and the president of Ukraine agreed was a “bad ambassador.”
The Times’ subhead read: “John Sullivan, the deputy secretary of state, told lawmakers he believed the president’s personal lawyer was involved in the plot to remove the ambassador to Ukraine” – using charged language to explain a routine dismissal of a diplomat tied to the previous administration who did not seem to be able to support the policies of the new administration.
Yet, the New York Times implied the dismissal of Yovanovitch could itself constitute grounds for impeachment. “How and why Ms. Yovanovitch, the former envoy to Ukraine and a longtime diplomat, was recalled from her job has become a question at the heart of the impeachment investigation into whether Mr. Trump enlisted a foreign government to target his political opponents,” Catie Edmondson of the Times wrote.
Sullivan testified Yovanovitch served “capably and admirably,” the Times reported. “He also went on the record with his belief that Mr. Giuliani helped to coordinate an effort to denigrate her.”