Trump says Ukraine envoy Yovanovitch wouldn't hang his picture. Fact check: There was no official portrait for most of 2017.

Dylan Stableford
Senior Writer

After more than a week of public impeachment hearings, President Trump called in to “Fox & Friends” for nearly an hour on Friday morning to fume about the probe and attack the witnesses while promoting various conspiracy theories.

One witness in particular drew Trump’s ire: Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine who last week testified that she was recalled from her post amid a smear campaign led by Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who claimed she wasn’t doing enough to combat corruption in Ukraine.

The president, however, was focused on a different perceived slight.

“She wouldn’t hang my picture in the embassy,” Trump said. “She is in charge of the embassy. She wouldn’t hang it. It took like a year and a half or two years to get the picture up. She said bad things about me, she wouldn’t defend me, and I have the right to change an ambassador.”

Marie Yovanovitch, former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, testifies on Nov. 15. (Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

“This was an Obama person. Didn’t want to hang my picture in the embassy,” the president continued. “Standard is, you put the president of the United States’ picture in an embassy. This was not an angel, this woman, OK?”

It’s true that presidential portraits are traditionally displayed inside the lobby of federal buildings, including courthouses, airports and U.S. embassies abroad.

But it appears the White House may be to blame for the delay in getting Trump’s picture hung inside the embassy in Kyiv.

In September 2017, eight months after Trump took office, the Washington Post reported that federal agencies were still waiting for the official photographs of the commander in chief from the Government Publishing Office, the printer of official portraits. The office said it was waiting for the official photo files to be supplied by the White House, which said it was “still in the process of creating the official portrait.”

“Once it’s been produced, the White House photo office will distribute it to all of the agencies and other requests,” White House spokeswoman Lindsay E. Walters said in a statement at the time.

The U.S. Embassy compound in Kyiv and the official portrait of President Trump. (Photos: Valentyn Ogirenko/Reuters, The White House)

On Halloween 2017, the White House announced it had finally produced the portrait and would begin distributing it to federal office buildings.

“I was in charge of the US embassy in London for much of Trump’s first year,” Lewis Lukens, former deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in London, tweeted in response to Trump’s comments. “We didn’t hang his picture either. Why? It took the WH almost 15 months to get official photos sent to embassies to hang. And we were instructed not to print other photos.”

A source with Yovanovitch’s legal team gave NBC News a similar explanation: “The Embassy in Kyiv hung the official photographs of the President, Vice President, and Secretary of State as soon as they arrived from Washington, DC.”


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