Trump Ordered Removal of Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch After Giuliani Complained
President Donald Trump recalled Marie Yovanovitch from her post as ambassador to Ukraine in May after complaints by Trump’s attorney, Rudy Giuliani, and other Trump allies abroad, that she was undermining the president’s authority, it was reported Thursday.
Yovanovitch was accused of having an anti-Trump bias and trying to block the effort to push the Ukrainian government to investigate Trump’s political rival, Joe Biden. A person familiar with the situation told the Wall Street Journal that Yovanovitch’s removal was a “priority” for Trump.
She is scheduled to give a deposition to the House Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees on Oct. 11 as part of the impeachment inquiry into Trump.
Yovanovitch was sworn in as ambassador to Ukraine in August 2016, under the Obama administration, making some in the Trump administration suspect ties to Biden. Andrew Bates, a Biden campaign spokesman, said Biden has professional respect for Yovanovitch but that the two aren’t close.
“She became our ambassador during the final six months of the administration,” Bates told the Journal. “This is standard Rudy Giuliani: noun, verb, lie about Joe Biden.”
At the time of her removal, the State Department said that she was “concluding her three-year diplomatic assignment in Kyiv in 2019 as planned.”
Trump told reporters Thursday, “I don’t know if I recalled her or somebody recalled her but I heard very, very bad things about her for a long period of time. Not good.”
Members of the diplomatic community rallied around Yovanovitch, praising her work as an ambassador.
“She was doing everything by the book,” a senior Ukraine government official told the Journal. “Everything was blessed by State Department.”
Retired U.S. ambassador James Melville criticized the State Department’s decision to remove her weeks before her assignment was scheduled to end.
“We saw the knives were out for Masha [Yovanovitch] but it was still shocking that she was forced to depart her post just weeks before she was going to go anyway,” Melville told CNN. “That’s just such a sign of disrespect, and almost contempt for career officers and diplomacy.”