The former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine called out President Trump in her congressional testimony Friday, saying he pushed her out based on "false claims" peddled by people with "questionable motives."
Marie Yovanovitch, who served as U.S. ambassador to Ukraine until May 2019, testified as part of the House of Representatives' impeachment inquiry, which was sparked by a whistleblower complaint alleging Trump abused his power by pushing for Ukraine investigate former Vice President Joe Biden.
Yovanovitch told lawmakers she was informed by the deputy secretary of state earlier this year she was being removed from her position even though "I had done nothing wrong" because Trump had been pressuring the State Department to do so since 2018. On Wednesday, two associates of Rudy Giuliani, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, were arrested and charged with campaign finance violations, having allegedly lobbied for Yovanovitch's removal on behalf of a Ukrainian government official.
"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 testified.
Among the allegations she refuted as being false were that she was "disloyal" to Trump or privately said to ignore his orders because he would be impeached. Giuliani has labeled her "part of the efforts against the president."
"I do not know Mr. Giuliani’s motives for attacking me," she says. "Individuals who have been named in the press as contacts of Mr. Giuliani may well have believed that their personal financial ambitions were stymied by our anti-corruption policy in Ukraine."
Yovanovitch concludes her withering opening statement by suggesting that "corrupt interests in Ukraine" fought back against her by "selling conspiracy theories to anyone who would listen."
"Sadly," she says, "someone was listening, and our nation is the worse off for that."