CAPITOL HILL - The ousted former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine is testifying Friday at the U.S. House of Representatives impeachment inquiry into U.S. President Donald Trump.
“I was incredulous that the U.S. government chose to remove an ambassador based, as best as I can tell, on unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives,” Marie Yovanovitch has said about her dismissal.
William Taylor, acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, and George Kent, a senior State Department official in charge of U.S. policy toward Ukraine, testified Wednesday.
All three diplomats have previously testified behind closed doors about Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and probe a discredited conspiracy theory regarding the 2016 presidential election.
Democrats say the open hearings will allow the public to assess the credibility of the witnesses and their testimonies. Republicans are likely to attempt to discredit the impeachment proceedings and poke holes in the witnesses’ testimony.
Here is what you need to know about Yovanovitch and her role in the Ukraine affair.
A career diplomat, Yovanovitch was U.S. ambassador to Ukraine from July 2016 to May 2019, when she was unceremoniously recalled to Washington after Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney, and his allies waged what her colleagues and Democrats have described as a smear campaign against her.
Two Giuliani associates recently arrested on charges of campaign finance violations are accused of lobbying former Republican House member Pete Sessions of Texas for her ouster. Her removal sent shock waves through the Foreign Service, with more than 50 former female U.S. ambassadors writing a letter to Trump and Pompeo urging protection of Foreign Service officers from political retaliation.
Yovanovitch testified last month that she felt threatened and worried about her safety after Trump said “she’s going to go through some things.” She also told lawmakers that U.S. Ambassador to the E.U. Gordon Sondland had recommended she praise Trump on Twitter if she wanted to save her job.
Next week, the House panel will hold public hearings again. The schedule for testimony includes:
Tuesday: Jennifer Williams, an aide to Vice President Mike Pence; Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, former director for European affairs at the National Security Council; Ambassador Kurt Volker, former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine; and Tim Morrison, a White House aide with the National Security Council focusing on Europe and Russia policy.
Wednesday: Sondland; Laura Cooper, deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russian, Ukrainian and Eurasian affairs; and David Hale, undersecretary of state for political affairs.
Thursday: Fiona Hill, former National Security Council senior director for Europe and Russia.