Marie Yovanovitch’s Opening Statement Is Blistering.
Marie Yovanovitch courageously testified to Congress today. She is America’s former Ambassador to Ukraine. She was replaced, at Rudy Giuliani’s request, because she interfered with his efforts to enlist Ukraine’s help in getting dirt on Trump’s political opponents. She had the audacity to insist that any such efforts go through official channels. The nerve of that woman!
By way of background, Rudy Giuliani was instrumental in her removal telling Trump she had an anti-Trump bias and that she had a “closeness” with the Bidens that was an obstacle to his efforts to push Ukraine to investigate the Bidens.
She was attacked by Trump in the now notorious transcript of his July 25th call with the President Zelenskyy of Ukraine. In that call Trump said:
The former ambassador from the United States, the woman, was bad
news and the people she was dealing with in the Ukraine were bad
She is also mentioned in the criminal indictment of the two Giuliani associates arrested on October 9th and charged with scheming to launder money from Russians and Ukrainians to Trump (and other Republican) campaigns. Amongst the influence they sought to gain was the removal of Marie Yovanovitch as Ambassador to Ukraine. Towards this end they met with Republican Congressman Pete Sessions (aka Congressman-1) seeking his influence in removing her.
At and around the same time PARNAS and FRUMAN committed to raising those funds for Congressman-1, BARNES met with Congressman-l and sought Congressman's assistance in causing the U.S Government to remove or recall the then U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine (the "Ambassador"). PARNAS's efforts to remove the Ambassador were conducted, at least in part, at the request of one or more Ukrainian government officials.
To summarize. Rudy Giuliani was using corrupt Ukrainians to urge investigation into the supposed corruption of Joe and Hunter Biden in Ukraine dealings. While Giuliani claims he was investigating evidence of meddling in our 2016 election, these two Ukrainians were themselves engaging in laundering money to help a pro-Russian Ukrainian oligarch and a Russian oligarch meddle in our 2016 election. These are the criminal sources Giuliani used.
Ambassador Yovannovitch in her testimony has an easy explanation for this. All the allegations against her made by Trump, by Giuliani, by the corrupt Ukrainians, were done simply to get her out of the way to free their own corrupt scheme supporting a bogus, evidence devoid investigation, of the Bidens. Here is some of her testimony as she addresses the lies told about her:
• As for events during my tenure in Ukraine, I want to categorically state that I have never myself or through others, directly or indirectly, ever directed, suggested, or in any other way asked for any government or government official in Ukraine (or elsewhere) to refrain from investigating or prosecuting actual corruption. As Mr. Lutsenko, the former Ukrainian Prosecutor General has recently acknowledged, the notion that I created or disseminated a “do not prosecute” list is completely false — a story that Mr.Lutsenko, himself, has since retracted.
• Equally fictitious is the notion that I am disloyal to President Trump. I have heard the allegation in the media that I supposedly told the Embassy team to ignore the President’s orders “since he was going to be impeached.” That allegation is false. I have never said such a thing, to my Embassy colleagues or to anyone else.
• Next, the Obama administration did not ask me to help the Clinton campaign or harm the Trump campaign, nor would I have taken any such steps if they had.
• I have never met Hunter Biden, nor have I had any direct or indirect conversations with him. And although I have met former Vice President Biden several times over the course of our many years in government, neither he nor the previous Administration ever, directly or indirectly, raised the issue of either Burisma or Hunter Biden with me.
• With respect to Mayor Giuliani, I have had only minimal contacts with him—a total of three that I recall. None related to the events at issue. I do not know Mr. Giuliani’s motives for attacking me. But individuals who have been named in the press as contacts of Mr. Giuliani may well have believed that their personal financial ambitions were stymied by our anti-corruption policy in Ukraine.
• Finally, after being asked by the Department in early March to extend my tour until 2020, I was then abruptly told in late April to come back to Washington from Ukraine “on the next plane.” You will understandably want to ask why my posting ended so suddenly. I wanted to learn that too, and I tried to find out. I met with the Deputy Secretary of State, who informed me of the curtailment of my term. He said that the President had lost confidence in me and no longer wished me to serve as his ambassador. He added that there had been a concerted campaign against me, and that the Department had been under pressure from the President to remove me since the Summer of 2018. He also said that I had done nothing wrong and that this was not like other situations where he had recalled ambassadors for cause. I departed Ukraine for good this past May.
• Although I understand that I served at the pleasure of the President, I was nevertheless incredulous that the U.S. government chose to remove an Ambassador based, as best as I can tell, on unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives. To make matters worse, all of this occurred during an especially challenging time in bilateral relations with a newly elected Ukrainian president. This was precisely the time when continuity in the Embassy in Ukraine was most needed.
Yovanovitch closed with blistering comments as to what has become of the State Department under this Administration and the harm this will do to America’s standing in the world, and the security of our nation.
I have served this nation honorably for more than 30 years . . . Throughout that time, I like my colleagues at the State Department—have always believed that we enjoyed a sacred trust with our government.
We make a difference every day on issues that matter to the American people—whether it is war and peace, trade and investment, or simply helping with a lost passport. We repeatedly uproot our lives, and we frequently put ourselves in harm’s way to serve this nation. And we do that willingly, because we believe inAmerica and its special role in the world. We also believe that, in return, our government will have our backs and protect us if we come under attack from foreign interests.
That basic understanding no longer holds true. Today, we see the State Department attacked and hollowed out from within. State Department leadership, with Congress, needs to take action now to defend this great institution, and its thousands of loyal and effective employees. We need to rebuild diplomacy as the first resort to advance America’s interests and the front line of America’s defense. I fear that not doing so will harm our nation’s interest, perhaps irreparably.
That harm will come not just through the inevitable and continuing resignation and loss of many of this nation’s most loyal and talented public servants. It also will come when those diplomats who soldier on and do their best to represent our nation face partners abroad who question whether the ambassador truly speaks for the President and can be counted upon as a reliable partner.
The harm will come when private interests circumvent professional diplomats for their own gain, not the public good. The harm will come when bad actors in countries beyond Ukraine see how easy it is to use fiction and innuendo to manipulate our system. In such circumstances, the only interests that will be served are those of our strategic adversaries, like Russia, that spread chaos and attack the institutions and norms that the U.S. helped create and which we have benefited from for the last 75 years.
I am proud of my work in Ukraine. The U.S. Embassy, under my leadership, represented and advanced the policies of the United States government as articulated, first by the Obama Administration and then by the Trump Administration. Our efforts were intended, and evidently succeeded, in thwarting corrupt interests in Ukraine, who fought back by selling baseless conspiracy theories to anyone who would listen. Sadly, someone was listening, and our nation is the worse off for that.
It’s clear the circumvention of professional diplomats to advance “the private interests” and “not the public good” is what this Ukraine scandal is all about. It is what the President’s personal attorney, not any kind of diplomat or even public employee, corruptly did on Trump’s behalf. It’s all proven by Trump’s phone call transcript, Giuliani’s public comments and the criminal complaint against Giuliani’s front men for Ukraine.
Keep in mind that Yovanovitch presents this testimony as someone who is still an employee of the State Department. This is her livelihood and has been for her productive life. That will likely now end, and America will have lost a courageous and competent servant of the people. There probably are not many of those left in this Administration.
I hope her sacrifice will not be futile.