Former Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch said Friday during an impeachment hearing that her ouster from Ukraine because of a smear campaign broadly undermined U.S. foreign policy.
The sole witness in the second impeachment inquiry, the former diplomat said the smear campaign that convinced President Trump to remove her from Ukraine set a dangerous precedent for other ambassadors.
“If our chief representative is kneecapped, it limits our effectiveness to safeguard the vital national security interest of the United States,” she told lawmakers in her opening statement. “This is especially important now, when the international landscape is more complicated and more competitive than it has been since the dissolution of the Soviet Union.”
“Our Ukraine policy has been thrown into disarray,” she added.
Ms. Yovanovitch denied the number of allegations about her, including that she pushed a “do not prosecute” list on the former Ukrainian Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko and undermined the president’s policy because of the looming threat of impeachment.
She also noted that she never met Hunter Biden, who served on the board of a Ukrainian energy company, and the issue of his position was never brought to her by former Vice President Joseph R. Biden or other officials in the previous administration.
The allegations were shared by Ukrainian officials who Ms. Yovanovitch said “apparently felt stymied by our efforts to promote stated U.S. policy against corruption.”
The allegations were also pushed by the president’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, who Ms. Yovanovitch said she only met three times.
“I still find it difficult to comprehend that foreign and private interests were able to undermine U.S. interest in this way,” she said.
Ms. Yovanovitch, who left Ukraine in May before the president’s July phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, noted that she won’t be able to attest to “a number of events” in the inquiry.
Democrats, however, said her ouster is the first chapter that cleared the way for alleged quid pro quo.
The crux of the impeachment inquiry centers on allegations that Mr. Trump pressured Mr. Zelensky via a quid pro quo to open investigations into alleged 2016 election interference and the former vice president’s connection to Burisma corruption.
A foreign career official for 33 years, Ms. Yovanovitch was appointed by President Barack Obama and kept on by Mr. Trump until her recall earlier this year.