Marie Yovanovitch, the former US ambassador to Ukraine, is on Capitol Hill Friday to testify in the second day of public impeachment hearings. But she used her opening testimony in large part to offer a stinging indictment of leadership at the State Department under Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and President Donald Trump.
Yovanovitch was the US ambassador to Ukraine between August 2016 and May of this year. A widely respected career diplomat and the highest-ranked female ambassador at the State Department, Yovanovitch was the target of Rudy Giuliani-led attacks falsely accusing her of, among other things, working to thwart Trump’s Ukraine policy and being close to the previous Ukrainian president, Petro Poroshenko. That smear campaign, backed with no public evidence, ultimately led to her unceremonious dismissal months before her time was up.
“I still find it difficult to comprehend that foreign and private interests were able to undermine US interests in this way,” she said. “These events should concern everyone in this room,” she added, noting, “If our chief representative is kneecapped, it limits our effectiveness to safeguard the vital national security interests of the United States.”
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Her strongest comments, though, came when she turned her attention to the “degradation of the Foreign Service” during this administration, highlighted by the fact that Pompeo didn’t protect Yovanovitch from the attacks.
“As Foreign Service professionals are being denigrated and undermined, the institution is also being degraded. This will soon cause real harm, if it hasn’t already,” Yovanovitch said. “The State Department is being hollowed out from within at a competitive and complex time on the world stage. This is not a time to undercut our diplomats.”
One of the country’s most respected ambassadors, then, just said that the State Department is flailing with Pompeo and Trump in charge. It’s about as damning a statement as one could imagine — and it came during one of the most dramatic periods of the Trump presidency.
You can read Yovanovitch’s full opening statement here.