The House Intelligence Committee will call former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch to testify on Friday in the second public hearing as part of the “impeachment inquiry” against President Donald Trump.
President Trump removed Yovanovitch from her post in May, after what critics called a “political hit job” against her.
No one has ever suggested it was illegal for Trump to do so: ambassadors serve at the pleasure of the president. There is nothing remotely impeachable in her firing. Curiously, newly-elected President Volodymyr Zelensky also told Trump that he had lost confidence in Yovanovitch.
However, Democrats will allege that former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who was acting at the time as the president’s personal attorney, fed Trump bad information about her that came from the media, relying on Ukrainian sources pursuing their own personal and political agendas.
Yovanovitch also enjoys a great deal of sympathy and respect, especially from senior members of the State Department. Her testimony is going to be used to paint Giuliani in the worst possible light — and thereby tarnish the president’s request, partly encouraged by Giuliani, to have Ukraine to commit to particular investigations.
Key Democratic Talking Points
1. Democrats have described Yovanovitch as an innocent victim of Trump’s foreign policy. They will relate how she was fired after Giuliani met former Prosecutor General Yuriy Letsenko, who told John Solomon, writing in The Hill in March, that she gave him a list of people not to prosecute and urged him not to prosecute the George Soros-backed Anti-Corruption Action Centre (AntAC). In closed-door testimony, she recalled a conversation with Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan: “I said, ‘What have I done wrong?’ And he said, ‘You’ve done nothing wrong.’”
- What Democrats aren’t telling you: Zelensky told Trump: “It was great that you were the first one who told me that she was a bad ambassador because I agree with you 100%. Her attitude towards me was far from the best as she admired the previous President and she was on his side. She would not accept me as a new President well enough.” Asked if she urged Letsenko “not to prosecute” individuals or entities, she responded, “Conversations about, ‘You need to be sure that, you know, there is a real case that is not politically motivated, that this isn’t just harassment and pressure — so those conversations, you know, certainty took place.”
2. Yovanovitch is a non-partisan foreign service veteran who was shocked when U.S. Ambassador to the E.U. Gordon Sondland allegedly suggested she tweet support for President Trump as a way of dispelling rumors of political bias. “It was advice that I did not see how I could implement in my role as an Ambassador, and as a Foreign Service Officer.” Democrats will describe her as a completely apolitical civil servant.
- What Democrats aren’t telling you: Fox News reported last week that Yovanovitch may have given the House Intelligence Committee false information when she testified that she did not respond to a request from a Democratic staffer on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “However, emails obtained by Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight” showed that in fact, Yovanovitch had responded to Carey’s initial Aug. 14 email, writing that she “would love to reconnect and look forward to chatting with you,” Fox News reported. Republicans have been concerned about potential coordination between Democratic committee staff in Congress and potential “whistleblowers” or witnesses as they attempt to impeach President Trump.
3. Yovanovitch was concerned that “Giuliani was involved in activities that may be at odds with U.S. policy.” Like other career diplomats, she was uncomfortable with an informal channel outside the normal bureaucratic structure.
- What Democrats aren’t telling you: Yovanovitch testified in her closed-door deposition that because of “President Trump’s decision to provide lethal weapons” to Ukraine, “our policy actually got stronger over the three last three years.” She also confirmed that the foreign aid that had been held up over the summer did not include the Javelin anti-tank missiles that had made the biggest difference and in which Ukraine was most interested. And she testified that Trump and the diplomats “shared” deep concern about corruption in Ukraine. Trump’s foreign policy achieved more for U.S-Ukraine relations than the bureaucrats had achieved under President Barack Obama, who denied weapons to Ukraine and could not solve the riddle of corruption there.