Marie Yovanovitch received a standing ovation from a crowd of diplomats while accepting an award at Georgetown University, where the ousted ambassador delivered a speech warning the State Department was “in trouble” under Donald Trump.
The former US ambassador to Ukraine was removed from her post in April 2019 following a covert effort by the president’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and others to have her taken out of the State Department.
Shortly after, Mr Trump urged the newly-elected Ukrainian president to launch investigations into one of his 2020 political rivals, Joe Biden, as well as unfounded allegations of Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election.
Ms Yovanovitch, who then served as a key figure in the president’s impeachment, said on Wednesday that the State Department was being “hollowed out” while individuals who “lack policy vision, moral clarity and leadership skills” were taking over.
“Vacancies at all levels go unfilled,” she said, “and officers are increasingly wondering whether it is safe to express concerns about policy, even behind closed doors.”
During the speech, Ms Yovanovitch called for US diplomacy to take on a “principled, consistent and trustworthy” approach, adding: “To be blunt, an amoral, keep-them-guessing foreign policy that substitutes threats, fear and confusion for trust cannot work over the long haul.”
“At some point, the once unthinkable will become inevitable,” she continued, “that our allies who have as much right to act in their own self interest as we do, will seek out more reliable partners whose interests might not align well with ours.”
Ms Yovanovitch served in US foreign policy under Democratic and Republican presidents throughout the course of her over 30-year career in diplomacy.
She later delivered testimony to the US House of Representatives during its impeachment inquiry into Mr Trump.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reportedly declined to intervene in Ms Yovanovitch’s removal from the State Department, and has failed to publicly defend the career diplomat after the apparent smear campaign on the part of the president’s attorney.
The crowd at Georgetown University was reportedly comprised of both diplomats and students who cheered for Ms Yovanovitch as she received the award.
Ms Yovanovitch also received a standing ovation from the crowd following her testimony on Capitol Hill — a rare occurrence during congressional hearings.