Yovanovitch Responds To Trump’s Twitter Criticism In Public Impeachment Hearing, Schiff Calls It ‘Witness Intimidation’

In a historical first, President Donald Trump‘s tweets criticizing former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, were read out loud in realtime during Friday’s public impeachment hearing.

While she testified, Trump tweeted, “Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad. She started off in Somalia, how did that go?”


He continued, “Then fast forward to Ukraine, where the new Ukrainian President spoke unfavorably about her in my second phone call with him. It is a U.S. President’s absolute right to appoint ambassadors.”

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Asked to respond to Trump’s tweet, Yovanovitch said, “I actually think that where I’ve served over the years, I and others have demonstrably made things better, you know, for the U.S. as well as for the countries that I’ve served in.”

House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-California) called the attack “witness intimidation.”

Yovanovitch, a career diplomat who has served in both Democratic and Republican administrations, has reluctantly stepped into the limelight as a witness in the presidential impeachment inquiry.

In her testimony Friday, she recounted how she was a target of a smear campaign lead by Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani and how ultimately she was ousted from her position, despite her boss telling her she did nothing wrong.

During her closed-door testimony in October, Yovanovitch told investigators that Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan told her that there was “a concerted campaign” against her, based on “unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives.”

She added, “He also said that I had done nothing wrong and that this was not like other situations where he had recalled ambassadors for cause.”

In her public testimony, she said, “Ultimately, he said the words that every foreign service officer understands, ‘The president has lost confidence in you.’ That was a terrible thing to hear.”

“And I said, well, you know, I guess I have to go then. But no real reason was offered as to why I had to leave,” she added.

She explained that she felt personally threatened by Trump, noting a “vague threat” during his July 25 phone call with the President of Ukraine he said, “well she’s going to go through some things” about her. She had already been recalled by this time.

“The color drained from my face,” she said, recounting finding out about the call. “Even now, words kind of fail me … I was shocked and devastated that I would feature in a phone call between two heads of state in such a manner.”

Trump’s previous comments about Yovanovitch to reporters show that the two had no direct interaction, and her removal was based on other people’s opinions.

He told reporters on Oct. 3, “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.”

Yovanovitch, who grew up speaking Russian, joined the State Department during the Reagan administration. She was first appointed ambassador to Kyrgyzstan by President George W. Bush and then to Armenia. President Barack Obama appointed her ambassador to Ukraine in 2016, where she pushed for anti-corruption efforts. In total, she has worked for the State Department for 33 years.

Katherine Huggins

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