WASHINGTON — President Trump’s former ambassador to Ukraine was ordered to leave the country “on the next plane” after a campaign of “false claims” against her, the diplomat told Congress on Friday.
Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch was informed by a top official that Trump had lost faith in her even though she’d “done nothing wrong”, according to a copy of her opening remarks.
Yovanovitch was recalled some three months early by Trump, this past May, around the time when Trump and his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani were attempting to gin up an investigation in Ukraine into Trump’s 2020 Democratic rival Joe Biden.
The diplomat’s testimony adds explosive evidence to Trump’s Ukraine scandal, which has sparked an impeachment inquiry focused on the question of Trump and Giuliani’s pressure campaign on Ukraine over Biden.
Her departure came as right-wing media personalities, Fox News pundits, and even Trump’s son Don Jr. raised a chorus of criticism about her tenure in Ukraine.
“Although I understand 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 best as I can tell, on unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives,” Yovanovitch said Friday.
Trump called her “bad news” in his now-notorious phone call with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky two months later, on July 25.
“After being asked by the Department in early March to extend my tour until 2020, I was then abruptly told in late April to come back to Washington from Ukraine ‘on the next plane,’” Yovanovitch said.
“I met with the Deputy Secretary of State, who informed me of the curtailment of my term,” she continued.
Yovanovitch appeared before Congress Friday in defiance of the Trump administration’s announcement of a “full halt” to any and all cooperation with the House over impeachment. Yovanovitch is currently a diplomat in residence at Georgetown University.
Read the prepared remarks here:
Cover: Former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, center, arrives on Capitol Hill, Friday, Oct. 11, 2019, in Washington, as she is scheduled to testify before congressional lawmakers on Friday as part of the House impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)