As Marie Yovanovitch testifies in the House impeachment inquiry, the world is waiting to hear what the former US ambassador to Ukraine has to say about Trump. Here’s what you need to know.
The name on everyone’s lips during the inquiry into President Donald Trump‘s impeachment is Marie Yovanovitch, the former ambassador to Ukraine who was removed from the position earlier this year. As the House continues to investigate Trump’s controversial phone call with the president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, Yovanovitch’s knowledge of the relationship between the country and the United States is more crucial than ever. Here’s what you need to know about Yovanovitch, 61, and the situation:
1. She’s a foreign service officer with three decades of experience throughout six presidential administrations. That’s four Republican presidents and two Democrats. She was appointed ambassador two times by former President George W. Bush, and once by Barack Obama. Before becoming the US ambassador to Ukraine in August 2016, she served as the ambassador to Kyrgyzstan from 2005 to 2008, and ambassador to Armenia from 2008 to 2011. She was removed from her position in Ukraine in May 2019.
2. She was recalled abruptly from her position as ambassador when Trump alleged she wasn’t loyal enough. She detailed the shocking way she was ousted and told to leave Kyiv “on the next plane” in May, during her private testimony in the impeachment inquiry: “So the Deputy Secretary [of State John Sullivan] said he was sorry this was all happening, that the president had lost confidence, and I would need to department my post. I said ‘What have I done wrong?’ And he said ‘You’ve done nothing wrong.’ And he said that he had had to speak to ambassadors who had been recalled for cause before and this was not that… I was upset. I wanted an explanation because this is rather unusual. But he could not offer one beyond the fact that the president had made a decision.”
3. Donald Trump called her “bad news” in the infamous Ukraine call. While speaking to President Zelensky, Trump said, “Rudy [Giuliani] very much knows what’s happening and he is a very capable guy. The former ambassador from the United States, the woman, was bad news and the people she was dealing with in the Ukraine were bad news…” He continued that attack as Yovanovitch testified in the public impeachment hearing on November 15. “Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad. She started off in Somalia, how did that go? Then fast forward to Ukraine, where the new Ukrainian President spoke unfavorably about her in my second phone call with him. It is a U.S. President’s absolute right to appoint ambassadors…
“They call it ‘serving at the pleasure of the President,’” the president continued. “The U.S. now has a very strong and powerful foreign policy, much different than proceeding administrations. It is called, quite simply, America First! With all of that, however, I have done FAR more for Ukraine than O.”
Our President denigrated a former US Ambassador to their President:
Trump: “The former ambassador from the United States, the woman, was bad news…”
Zelenskyy: “It was great that you were the first one that told me she was a bad ambassador because I agree with you 100%. pic.twitter.com/iElqbbQcjH
— Laurence (Larry) Boorstein (@LarryBoorstein) November 15, 2019
Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad. She started off in Somalia, how did that go? Then fast forward to Ukraine, where the new Ukrainian President spoke unfavorably about her in my second phone call with him. It is a U.S. President’s absolute right to appoint ambassadors.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 15, 2019
4. She was the target of unfounded allegations that she tried to protect American expats in Ukraine with a “do not prosecute” list. Yovanovitch told House members that she was the subject of a brutal smear campaign by Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney and talking head, who claimed she had been badmouthing the president. His allegation was based on disinformation from Ukrainians, who also claimed that she was blocking the corruption investigations with a “do not prosecute list” and protecting former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden.
“Ukrainians who preferred to play by the old, corrupt rules sought to remove me. What continues to amaze me is that they found Americans willing to partner with them,” Yovanovitch said during her public House hearing. “I did not tell Mr. Lutsenko or other Ukrainian officials who they should or should not prosecute… Giuliani should have known those claims were suspect, coming as they reportedly did from individuals with questionable motives… “I remain disappointed that the [State] Department’s leadership and others have declined to acknowledge that the attacks against me and others are dangerously wrong… Moreover, the attacks are leading to a crisis in the State Department.”
5. She said she feels threatened by Giuliani and Trump. A standout quote from Yovanovitch’s private testimony: “Did you feel threatened?” “Yes.” House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) acknowledged this very real fear during her public testimony, telling the former ambassador, ““I want to let you know, ambassador, that some of us here take witness intimidation very, very seriously.” It’s worth noting that Yovanovitch is the first State Department official to testify in the impeachment inquiry, despite Vice President Mike Pence issuing a blanket ban on department employees testifying.