Former United States ambassador Marie Yovanovitch’s testimony on Friday revealed why she likely lost the confidence of President Donald Trump as the ambassador to Ukraine.
Yovanovitch demonstrated she was indifferent or even averse to any corruption concerns surrounding Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden and even denied that Ukrainians were meddling in the 2016 election.
Yovanovitch dodged direct questions about whether she thought former Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden serving on the board of the corrupt Ukrainian gas company Burisma was wrong.
“It was not the focus of what I was doing in that six month period,” she said when asked by Republican counsel Steve Castor about her understanding of Hunter Biden’s role.
She even denied that the issue was ever raised while she was the ambassador, pointing to Hunter Biden’s decision to resign from the board after his father decided to run for president.
While previous diplomatic officials testifying on Tuesday admitted that Hunter Biden’s role on the Burisma board was problematic, Yovanovitch only admitted that it may have created the “appearance” of a conflict of interest.
Twice, Yovanovitch stated that she did not believe that former Vice President Joe Biden’s demand that Ukraine fire a prosecutor investigating Burisma had anything to do with his son’s role on the board.
“I actually don’t,” she replied, adding, “I don’t think that had anything to do with the Burisma case.”
Under additional questioning, she admitted that Hunter Biden’s role on the board “could raise the appearance of a conflict of interest” but that she did not agree that Biden’s threat to force the prosecutor investigating Burisma was problematic.
She also said that she did not ever speak about Hunter Biden’s role with Burisma with the State Department, even after official George Kent raised concerns with the vice president’s office.
Rep. Elise Stefanik reminded Yovanovitch that she was even prepared by the Obama State Department on how to answer questions to Congress about Hunter Biden for her Senate confirmation hearing.
Under questioning from Rep. John Ratcliffe, Yovanovitch admitted that she was in fact coached by Obama State Department officials to respond to questions about Hunter Biden by referring members of Congress to Vice President Joe Biden’s office.
Yovanovitch presented herself as a tough advocate against corruption in the opening of her testimony, even claiming that she was fired by Trump because of her efforts to clean up Ukrainian corruption and the “smear campaign” that followed, launched by former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani
But when she was asked about whether it was proper for the president to investigate corruption in Ukraine, she suggested that it was not.
“I think it’s appropriate as long as it’s part of our national strategy,” she said, adding that the “proper channel” for such investigations was through the Justice Department.
Yovanovitch also appeared uninterested and even denied reports of Ukrainian officials participating in meddling in the 2016 presidential election, by cooperating with Democrat operative Alexandra Chalupa.
She was unable to conclusively say whether or not she had ever met with Chalupa.
“I don’t think so,” she replied to Castor. “She works with the Ukraine embassy, it’s possible that I met her in a large group.”
Largely ignoring questions about Ukrainian meddling, Yovanovitch repeatedly reverted attention to the intelligence committee assessment of Russia’s attempt to meddle in the Ukrainian election.