The second day of the public impeachment hearings of President Trump begins Friday at 10 a.m., and as with Robert Mueller’s testimony earlier this year, it will require observers to remember an intimidating number of names and backchannel exchanges. To help keep track of who thinks it’s okay for Trump to demand personal favors from foreign leaders and who’s already copped to the quid pro quo in Ukraine, Intelligencer is providing a daily rundown of the hearings’ most important characters.
Referred to just as “the woman” on Trump’s July 25 call to President Zelenksy, Yovanovitch is a career diplomat who served under the Bush and Obama administrations. In May, she was recalled from her position as ambassador to Ukraine, which she had held since August 2016. Prior to her removal in May, she was a major force supporting anti-corruption efforts in Ukraine, which helps explain why Trump got rid of her in order to push the quid pro quo, an entry-level move of corrupt politicians.
Level of Devotion to Trump
The president removed her to pursue an agenda flying in the face of her work in the country, so it can’t be significant. As if that personal affront weren’t enough, as a career State official she has also said that the president has “attacked and hollowed out from within” the department. Yovanovitch also enjoys the support of multiple top State officials, including senior diplomats Philip Gordon and Daniel Fried, who wrote that Trump’s decision represents an “egregious mistreatment of one of the country’s most distinguished ambassadors.”
Her Bombshell Revelation
In closed-door testimony before the House impeachment inquiry in October, Yovanovitch stated that her removal was based on “unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives,” which is a long way to say “Rudy Giuliani.” She claimed that the president and his personal lawyer ran a smear campaign against her, and that she was removed in May — the month President Zelesnky was inaugurated — so that she could not interfere with the attempts to investigate Hunter Biden that Trump was pushing on the new administration.
Why Democrats Are Calling Her to Testify
Like Bill Taylor and George Kent on Wednesday, Yovanovitch will provide a counterpoint of professionalism to the freewheeling nature of Trump’s appointees and backchannel actors. Yovanovitch will also be able to attest to Trump’s and Giuliani’s personal interest in the plot to investigate the president’s political enemies as early as November 2018, when she first became aware of the lawyer’s meddling in Kiev.
Yovanovitch is also expected to testify on the personal threats that she felt coming from the president. Shortly before she was ousted, State officials told her she needed to leave Ukraine out of “security” concerns, which the administration later clarified were not physical threats, but the possibility of a Trump Twitter attack. On the July 25 phone call to President Zelenksy, Trump said that Yovanovitch was “going to go through some things.” In her closed-door testimony, she said that the comment was unclear, though when she was asked if she felt “threatened” by the president, she said yes.