Today former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Maria Yovanovitch testified behind closed doors in front of the House of Representatives. Hers may prove to be the most consequential testimony yet heard in the Democratic Party’s impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump.
Yovanovitch was in her ambassadorial role from 2016 to May 2019 when she was dismissed two months ahead of schedule. The official reason appears to be insufficient loyalty to the Trump administration.
“The former ambassador from the United States, the woman, was bad news and the people she was dealing with in the Ukraine were bad news, so I just want to let you know that,” Trump told Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky during their July 25 phone call. Zelensky commiserated with Trump and described his own issues with the female Ukrainian ambassador to the United States, whom he says he also immediately recalled due to her outward criticism of him.
There appear to have been forces gunning to remove Yovanovitch from her position for some time. Former Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) wrote a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in May 2018 asking that he consider terminating Yovanovitch from her post. “I have received notice of concrete evidence from close companions that Ambassador Yovanovitch has spoken privately and repeatedly about her disdain for the current Administration in a way that might call for the expulsion of Ms. Yovanovitch as U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine immediately.”
Sessions wrote this letter after receiving a $20,000 donation to his campaign from Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, who disguised it as a donation from a Florida-based energy company. Parnas, Fruman, and associates were arrested Wednesday evening on charges of campaign finance violations, including donating hundreds of thousands of dollars in foreign money to domestic Republican organizations.