Former ambassador Marie Yovanovitch came to Capital Hill on Friday as part of the impeachment hearings. For lawmakers, questions about her removal while the administration sought a Ukrainian investigation into Hunter Biden loom large. Her opening statement was, for many, their first chance to hear from the important figure in this investigation.
Yovanovitch Started by Outlining Her Background and Family History
As her statement began, Yovanovitch chose to speak to representatives and the public about her background as well as her family’s own history. The first statement was a powerful rebuttal of Trump’s comments concerning this witness. “I come before you as an American citizen, who has devoted the majority of my life, 33 years, to service to the country that all of us love,” she said. Going further, she outlined her mother and father’s struggle to find freedom. “My service is an expression of gratitude for all that this country has given my family and me. My late parents did not have the good fortune to come of age in a free society,” she continued later in the statement.
In this portion of the statement, the former ambassador also spoke to the idea that diplomats lived a charmed life. “There is a perception that diplomats lead a comfortable life throwing dinner parties in fancy homes. Let me tell you about some of my reality. It has not always been easy. I have moved 13 times and served in seven different countries, five of them hardship posts,” Yovanovitch stated. She went on to lay out some her time spent in the world’s most dangerous conflicts.
A Timeline of Her Service in Ukraine and Its Importance to the Hearings
At this point in her statement, Yovanovitch talked about her time as Ambassador to Ukraine. According to the witness, that time began in August 2016 and ended in May 2019. “I worked to advance U.S. policy—fully embraced by Democrats and Republicans alike—to help Ukraine become a stable and independent democratic state, with a market economy integrated into Europe,” Yovanovitch said. She also spoke of the importance of establishing a democratic Ukraine. “That’s why it was our policy to help the Ukrainians achieve their objectives—they matched our objectives,” she continued.
She went further into the struggle for Ukraine and how America and Russia sees things very differently. “We see the potential in Ukraine. Russia, by contrast, sees the risk. The history is not written yet, but Ukraine could move out of Russia’s orbit. And now Ukraine is a battleground for great power competition, with a hot war for the control of territory and a hybrid war to control Ukraine’s leadership,” the former ambassador stated. Yovanocith left a dire warning as she shifted to other parts of her statement. “If Russia prevails and Ukraine falls to Russian dominion, we can expect to see other attempts by Russia to expand its territory and influence,”she said.
When speaking out corruption, the witness was also blunt in her concerns. “Corrupt leaders are inherently less trustworthy, while an honest and accountable Ukrainian leadership makes a U.S.-Ukrainian partnership more reliable and more valuable to the United States,” Yovanovitch said. “A level playing field in this strategically-located country bordering four NATO allies, creates an environment in which U.S. business can more easily trade, invest, and profit,” she continued.
The Former Ambassador Could Not Speak to Some Events and Subjects
There were some topics that she could not offer any information on during the hearings. The most prominent subjects involved Manafort, Viktor Shokin, and trump’s call to President Zelenskiy. In the case of those matters, the representatives would have to talk to other witnesses.
Yovanovitch’s Time in the Ukraine Is Laid Out in Detail
She spoke to several allegations made against her, mostly by administration officials, and offered a rebuttal to those statements. “I want to reiterate first that the allegation that I disseminated a “Do Not Prosecute” list was a fabrication. Mr. Lutsenko, the former Ukrainian Prosecutor General who made that allegation, has acknowledged that the list never existed,” the former ambassador said during this portion of the hearing. She also went on to discuss several other key aspects, including those involving allegations against the Obama administration and Clinton campaign.
It was also in this portion of her statement, that Yovanovitch talked about her departure. “Deputy Secretary of State Sullivan told me there had been a concerted campaign against me, that the President no longer wished me to serve as Ambassador to Ukraine, and that in fact, the President had been pushing for my removal since the prior summer,” she said of her removal. She went on to say, “I still find it difficult to comprehend that foreign and private interests were able to undermine U.S. interests in this way. Individuals, who apparently felt stymied by our efforts to promote stated U.S. policy against.”
The former official ended her statement with powerful questions for representatives and those watching. “After these events, what foreign official, corrupt or not, could be blamed for wondering whether the Ambassador represents the President’s views? And what U.S. Ambassador could be blamed for harboring the fear that they cannot count on our government to support them as they implement stated U.S. policy and defend U.S. interests?” she asked. These questions are at the heart of what her testimony is about.