Trump Criticizes Ex-Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch as She Testifies to Congress

November 15, 2019 Updated: November 15, 2019

President Donald Trump railed against Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, as she testified to the House Intelligence Committee in the second open impeachment hearing on Nov. 15.

“Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad. She started off in Somalia, how did that go? Then fast forward to Ukraine, where the new Ukrainian President spoke unfavorably about her in my second phone call with him,” Trump said in a statement posted on Twitter.

“It is a U.S. President’s absolute right to appoint ambassadors. They call it ‘serving at the pleasure of the President.’ The U.S. now has a very strong and powerful foreign policy, much different than proceeding administrations. It is called, quite simply, America First! With all of that, however, I have done FAR more for Ukraine than O.”

Yovanovitch testified in a closed-door hearing on Oct. 11 before appearing in public on Friday. According to a transcript released by House Democrats, she told lawmakers she wasn’t “disloyal to President Trump” and also denied helping the Hillary Clinton campaign or harming the Trump campaign.

“Although I understand, everyone understands, that I served at the pleasure of the President, I was nevertheless incredulous that the U.S. Government chose to remove an ambassador based, as far as I can tell, on unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives,” she said, referring to her ouster about a year before she was slated to end her time in Ukraine. She claimed the State Department has been “attacked and hollowed out from within.”

Yovanovitch told lawmakers on Friday she felt intimidated by Trump’s attacks.

“We take witness intimidation very seriously,” said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the House Intelligence chairman.

Yovanovitch noted in October and on Friday that several notable events lawmakers are probing took place before her time in Ukraine—she served from Aug. 22, 2016 to May 20—including Ukrainian lawmakers releasing a so-called black ledger that purported to show damaging information about Trump’s campaign chairman Paul Manafort and the ouster of Viktor Shokin, who former Vice President Joe Biden pressured Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to get out of office.

Shokin was probing Burisma, which employed Biden’s son Hunter Biden from 2014 to 2019.

One of Trump’s requests to current Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was to “look into” allegations surrounding the Bidens, which House Democrats say amounts to asking for interference in the 2020 election. Joe Biden is vying for the Democratic presidential nomination.

The Bidens have denied wrongdoing and Trump has said his requests to Zelensky were not illegal or even improper.

Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber
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