- Marie Yovanovitch, the ousted US ambassador to Ukraine, was the third official to testify this week in Congress’ public impeachment hearings into whether President Donald Trump abused his power for private gain.
- Yovanovitch focused on Trump, his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, and top brass at the State Department in her nearly seven-hour hearing on Friday.
- She refused to take Republicans’ bait as they tried to push her to acknowledge conspiracy theories about Ukrainian election meddling.
- The former ambassador to Ukraine made a powerful opening statement singling out State Department leaders and saying they allowed corrupt interests to “hijack” US foreign policy.
- The Democratic strategy for Friday’s hearing was to let the facts speak for themselves, while the Republican strategy was to distract, distract, distract.
- Scroll down to read the biggest takeaways from Yovanovitch’s marathon testimony.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Marie Yovanovitch, the ousted former ambassador to Ukraine, was the third official to testify this week in Congress’ impeachment hearings into whether President Donald Trump abused his power for private gain.
The career diplomat and foreign-service officer focused on Trump, his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, and top brass at the State Department in her powerful testimony.
Yovanovitch was abruptly recalled from her position in May after what she described as a nearly yearlong “smear campaign” against her by Trump and Giuliani that was based on fabrications and lies.
In her testimony, Yovanovitch said she believed she had become the target of Giuliani’s ire because she would not help him strong-arm the Ukrainian government into delivering the politically motivated investigations Trump wanted.
Specifically, the president wanted his Ukrainian counterpart to publicly commit to investigating former Vice President Joe Biden and his son for corruption, as well as probe a bogus conspiracy theory suggesting it was Ukraine, not Russia, that interfered in the 2016 election.
These are the biggest takeaways from Yovanovitch’s testimony
The Democratic strategy: let the facts speak for themselves.
- Daniel Goldman, the veteran former federal prosecutor from the Southern District of New York, kept his questions simple, straightforward, and formulated to draw out as much substance as possible.
- Through his questions, Goldman had Yovanovitch detailed the remarkable chain of events, both public and private, that culminated in her ouster.
- “During your 33-year career as a foreign-service officer, did you ever hear of any serious concerns about your job performance?” Goldman asked Yovanovitch. “No,” she replied.
- “In your 33 years as a foreign-service officer, have you ever heard of a president of the United States recalling another ambassador without cause based on allegations that the State Department knew to be false?” he asked. “No,” Yovanovitch said.
The Republican strategy: distract, distract, distract.
- Republican lawmakers largely used the hearing to do the following: demand the whistleblower who sparked the impeachment inquiry be hauled in to testify, gin up conspiracy theories about Ukrainian election interference, accuse Democrats of being a “basement cult,” and name-drop the Democratic operative Alexandra Chalupa, who they say they believe is the key link between Democrats and an anti-Trump Ukrainian establishment.
- That said, while Republicans went to bat for Trump, they also went out of their way to praise Yovanovitch for her decades of public service.
- The strategy was particularly interesting because it came as the president was publicly attacking Yovanovitch as she testified.
Yovanovitch didn’t take Republicans’ bait.
- Steve Castor, Goldman’s counterpart on the Republican side, dove into a lengthy and, at times, convoluted line of questioning attempting to imply that Yovanovitch didn’t do enough to “push back” on the “concerted campaign” against her.
- But Yovanovitch didn’t bite and insisted the State Department, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, were well aware of Giuliani and his associates’ smear campaign against her.
- Later, Castor started on a series of questions meant to establish the Ukrainian government was anti-Trump during the 2016 election. He likely wanted to lay a foundation in order to claim the Ukrainian government had a vested interest in interfering in the election to hurt Trump.
- Again, Yovanovitch refused to take the bait or acknowledge that anyone in the Ukrainian government meddled in the race.
Trump was accused of witness intimidation after lobbing Twitter attacks on Yovanovitch while she was testifying about how she felt personally threatened by him.
- The president took to his favourite social-media platform to slam Yovanovitch and say that “everywhere” she “went turned bad.”
- In a remarkable turn of events, Yovanovitch was asked to respond to Trump’s tweets in real time as House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff read them to her in real time.
- The former ambassador replied that it was “very intimidating” to be publicly smeared.
- Trump’s tweets immediately drew backlash from House Democrats and legal experts for what they said was attempted witness intimidation.
Yovanovitch: ‘I was shocked, absolutely shocked, and devastated’ by what Trump said in a July 25 call with Ukraine’s president.
- During his July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Trump mentioned Yovanovitch and said she was “bad news,” adding that “she’s going to go through some things.”
- Yovanovitch said she was “shocked, absolutely shocked, and devastated, frankly,” by what Trump said about her.
- “I was shocked and devastated that I would feature in a phone call between two heads of state in such a manner where President Trump said that I was bad news to another world leader, and that I would be going through some things,” the former ambassador said. “It was a terrible moment.”
- She continued, saying that a person who saw her reading the memo of the call said “the colour drained from my face. I think I even had a physical reaction. Even now, words fail me.”
- Asked whether she felt personally threatened by Trump’s words, Yovanovitch replied, “I did.”
Yovanovitch singled out State Department leadership and said it allowed corrupt interests to “hijack” the US’s foreign policy.
- Yovanovitch also slammed the State Department’s top brass as being passive amid the “degradation” of US foreign service.
- She sharply criticised department leadership, saying it failed “to push back as foreign and corrupt interests apparently hijacked our Ukraine policy.”
- She added that she remained “disappointed” that the department’s leaders and others “have declined to acknowledge that the attacks against me and others are dangerously wrong.”
The former ambassador was shocked that corrupt Ukrainians were able to find Americans willing to collaborate with them to undermine the US.
- “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 US ambassador,” Yovanovitch said.
- “How could our system fail like this? How is it that foreign corrupt interests can manipulate our government?” she added. “Which country’s interests are served when the very corrupt behaviour we have been criticising is allowed to prevail?”
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