Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch defies Trump delivered her opening statement in closed-door testimony before the House Committees on Oversight and Reform, Foreign Affairs and Intelligence. She also is a breakthrough for Democrats seeking details in their continuing impeachment inquiry of Trump.
Marie Yovanovitch Defies Trump and former US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch told House impeachment investigators on Friday that Trump himself had pressured the State Department to remove her from her post and get her out of the country.
Yovanovitch, who was abruptly dismissed as the US envoy to Ukraine in May, seemed for a closed-door deposition on Friday, despite Trump’s position that his administration would not support this investigation.
Yovanovitch told lawmakers investigating Trump’s dealings with Ukraine that there was a “concerted campaign” against her based on “unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives.”
The diplomat was recalled from Kyiv as Rudy Giuliani, who is Trump’s personal lawyer and has no official role in the U.S. government, pressed Ukrainian officials to investigate baseless corruption allegations against Democrat Joe Biden and his son Hunter, who was involved with a gas company there.
New York Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, a Democrat, told Yovanovitch occasionally had to leave the room because she was overcome with emotion as she was “recounting how she was thrown to the wolves” in Ukraine.
“It is clear to me that she was fired because she was a thorn in the side of those who sought to use the Ukrainian government for their own political and financial gain – and that includes President Trump,” Maloney said.
Lawmakers leaving the meeting would not provide specifics from the confidential deposition. But they indicated that Yovanovitch was providing information that would help with the impeachment inquiry.
“It was compelling, it was impactful, it was powerful and I just feel grateful for the opportunity to have received that information,” said Democratic Rep. Denny Heck, who flew in from Washington state for the interview. He said the eight hours he was there “went like a New York second.”
Yovanovitch “set a very powerful, courageous example,” said Democratic Rep. Tom Malinowski of New Jersey.
Marie Louise Yovanovitch who born in 1958, is a member of the senior ranks of the United States Foreign Service who served as the 9th United States Ambassador to Ukraine. She was nominated to the post on May 18, 2016, to replace Geoff Pyatt, was sworn in on August 18, 2016, and was recalled as of May 20, 2019. She is a diplomat in residence at the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy at Georgetown University.
Yovanovitch was the United States Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan from November 20, 2004, to February 4, 2008, and the United States Ambassador to Armenia from August 1, 2008, to June 3, 2011.
On Monday, Fiona Hill, a previous White House adviser who centered on Russia, is expected to appear, and three current State Department officials are tentatively scheduled next week. They include Gordon Sondland, who was blocked from appearing this week but whose attorney announced he would prove next Thursday.
As for Yovanovitch’s dealing with pressure from Washington, the former diplomat who spoke with her said the ambassador refused to do “all this offline, personal, informal stuff” and made clear that the US government had formal ways to request foreign governments’ help with investigations.
The State Department traditionally relies on mutual legal assistance treaties, under which US and foreign officials agree to exchange evidence and information in criminal investigations.
In her statement to lawmakers, Yovanovitch said that “false narratives” had resulted from “an unfortunate alliance between Ukrainians who continue to operate within a corrupt system and Americans who either did not understand that corrupt system, or who may have chosen, for their own purposes, to ignore it.”
Trump earlier this week said all government officials would be barred from testifying in the impeachment process in Congress because he considered the impeachment unfair and “illegitimate.”
It is not obvious whether Marie Yovanovitch’s presence in Congress means a change in White House strategy or whether he has acted contrary to instructions.
Democrats in the US Congress are investigating Trump’s role in pressuring Ukrainian authorities to investigate the alleged corruption of Trump’s 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son. Yovanovitch was summoned from the embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine, while Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, is pushing for the authorities to launch an investigation into unfounded allegations of corruption against Biden and his son.