Former ambassador to Ukraine: Trump has empowered 'shady interests the world over'

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In her opening statement, Marie Yovanovitch said the successful smear campaign against her hurt all American diplomats abroad.

Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch issued a searing opening statement on Thursday during her testimony in the second public impeachment hearing, saying that the successful smear campaign against her hinders all American diplomats from carrying out the country's foreign policy goals.

Yovanovitch described the way Donald Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, lobbied on behalf of corrupt Ukrainian interests to get Trump to remove her so she couldn't stand in their way. And she described why it was so dangerous for all foreign service officials.

"Our Ukraine policy has been thrown into disarray, and shady interests the world over have learned how little it takes to remove an American ambassador who does not give them what they want," Yovanovitch said. "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?"

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Giuliani, for his part, is under federal investigation for acting as an unregistered foreign agent.

Two of his associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman — who have ties to the corrupt Ukrainian interests Yovanovitch was fighting against — have been indicted for illegally trying to influence American elections with foreign contributions.

Other State Department officials, including George Kent, who testified on Wednesday in the first public hearing, said they were frustrated that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo did not stand up for Yovanovitch and allowed Giuliani to poison Trump's mind against Yovanovitch to get her ousted.

Trump, for his part, seems to have bought Giuliani's lies about Yovanovitch. During her testimony, Trump tweeted attacks against her.

"Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad," Trump wrote. "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. It is a U.S. President's absolute right to appoint ambassadors."

Politico's Jake Sherman reported that this kind of attack is what House Republicans hoped Trump would avoid.

"Oh my goodness. The president is blaming Yovanovitch for ills in the hardship countries she served in," Sherman tweeted. "EXACTLY the type of attack House Republicans told me they were trying to avoid yesterday. A real time example of message mess in the White House which has gotten worse clearly."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.