November 18, 2019
In a shocking display of animus during the testimony of ousted Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch on Friday morning, November 15, U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted an accusation, with no supporting evidence, that she had caused havoc during her diplomatic tours prior to her most recent assignment.
Even as Yovanovitch bore witness as part of the impeachment inquiry, the president tweeted: “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 was an attack that House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff characterized as “witness intimidation”—and which the former ambassador clapped back on: When asked to comment on the tweet, Yovanovitch said, “I actually think that where I’ve served over the years, I and others have demonstrably made things better, you know, for the U.S. as well as for the countries that I’ve served in.”
She described herself as a dedicated public servant during her opening statement, asserting, “I come before you as an American citizen, who has devoted the majority of my life, 33 years, to service to the country that all of us love. Like my colleagues, I entered the Foreign Service understanding that my job was to implement the foreign policy interests of this nation, as defined by the President and Congress, and to do so regardless of which person or party was in power. I had no agenda other than to pursue our stated foreign policy goals.
Then, as The Wall Street Journal reported, she went on to portray herself as the victim of a plot by corrupt Ukrainians in partnership with Americans to oust her because of her advocacy for rule of law issues in her role as ambassador.
“Individuals, who apparently felt stymied by our efforts to promote stated U.S. policy against corruption—that is, to do our mission—were able to successfully conduct a campaign of disinformation against a sitting ambassador, using unofficial back channels,” she said.
“Not all Ukrainians embraced our anticorruption work. Thus, perhaps, it was not surprising, that when our anticorruption efforts got in the way of a desire for profit or power, Ukrainians who preferred to play by the old, corrupt rules sought to remove me,” she said.
“What continues to amaze me is that they found Americans willing to partner with them and, working together, they apparently succeeded in orchestrating the removal of a U.S. ambassador,” Yovanovitch said.
“How could our system fail like this? How is it that foreign corrupt interests could manipulate our government?” she asked. “Which country’s interests are served when the very corrupt behavior we have been criticizing is allowed to prevail? Such conduct undermines the U.S., exposes our friends, and widens the playing field for autocrats like President Putin.”
“Our leadership depends on the power of our example and the consistency of our purpose. Both have now been opened to question.”
She said that “with respect to Mayor [Rudy] Giuliani,”—the president’s personal attorney, who had traveled to the Ukraine to obtain “oppo research” on the Democratic candidate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter—“I have had only minimal contacts with him …. None related to the events at issue. 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.”
In describing her departure, the former ambassador said “I was … abruptly told … in late April to come back to Washington from Ukraine ‘on the next plane.’”
She attributed the reason for her ejection to “Individuals , who apparently felt stymied by our efforts to promote stated U.S. policy against corruption—that is, to do the mission—were able to successfully conduct a campaign of disinformation against a sitting Ambassador, using unofficial back channels. As various witnesses have recounted, they shared baseless allegations with the President and convinced him to remove his Ambassador, despite the fact that the State Department fully understood that the allegations were false and the sources highly suspect.”
And despite those false allegations, Yovanovitch made it clear that she had gotten no support from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, noting, “It is the responsibility of the Department’s leaders to stand up for the institution and the individuals who make that institution the most effective diplomatic force in the world. And Congress has a responsibility to reinvest in our diplomacy. That’s an investment in our national security, an investment in our future.
“These events, “the former ambassador told the House Intelligence panel, “should concern everyone in this room. Ambassadors are the symbol of the United States abroad, the personal representatives of the President. They should always act and speak with full authority to advocate for U.S. policies. If our chief representative is kneecapped, it limits our effectiveness to safeguard the vital national security interests of the United States. This is especially important now, when the international landscape is more complicated and more competitive than it has been since the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
“Our Ukraine policy has been thrown into disarray, and shady interests the world over have learned how little it takes to remove an American Ambassador who does not give them what they want. After these events, what foreign official, corrupt or not, could be blamed for wondering whether the Ambassador represents the President’s views? And what U.S. Ambassador could be blamed for harboring the fear that they cannot count on our government to support them as they implement stated U.S. policy and defend U.S. interests?”
Research contact: @WSJ