‘It’s Very Intimidating’

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Marie Yovanovitch, who was ousted as the ambassador to Ukraine on President Trump’s orders, came before the House Intelligence Committee on the second day of public hearings in the impeachment inquiry. At the very moment she was testifying about feeling threatened by the president, the president was tweeting about her.

“The Latest” is a new series on the impeachment inquiry, from the team behind “The Daily.” For more information, visit nytimes.com/thedaily.

On today’s episode:



Trump Impeachment Hearings: Day 2 Highlights

Marie L. Yovanovitch, the former American ambassador to Ukraine, appeared before the House Intelligence Committee for the second public hearing of the impeachment inquiry.

“It is in America’s national security interest to help Ukraine transform into a country where the rule of law governs and corruption is held in check. Ukrainians who prefer to play by the old corrupt rules sought to remove me. What continues to amaze me is that they found Americans willing to partner with them, and working together, they apparently succeeded in orchestrating the removal of a U.S. ambassador.” “And at one point in your deposition you said that they — that being Giuliani and the corrupt foreign prosecutor general — had plans to, quote, ‘do things to me.’ What did you mean by that?” “I didn’t really know. But that’s what I had been told by Ukrainian officials.” “Did you subsequently understand a little bit more what that meant?” “Well, you know now with the advantage of hindsight, I think that meant removing me from my job in Ukraine.” “You had left Ukraine by the time of the July 25 call between President Trump and President Zelensky. Prior to reading that call record, were you aware that President Trump had specifically made reference to you in that call?” “No.” “What was your reaction to learning that?” “I was shocked, absolutely shocked, and devastated frankly. President Trump said that I was ‘bad news’ to another world leader, and that I would be going through some things. So I was — it was a terrible moment. ‘She’s going to go through some things.’ It didn’t sound good, it sounded like a threat.” “Did you feel threatened?” “I did.” “As we sit here testifying, the president is attacking you on Twitter, and I’d like to give you a chance to respond. I’ll read part of one of his tweets. ‘Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad. She started off in Somalia, how did that go?’” “Well, I mean — I don’t think I have such powers, not in Mogadishu, Somalia, not in other places.” “The president implicitly threatened you in that call record and now the president in real time is attacking you: What effect do you think that has on other witnesses’ willingness to come forward and expose wrongdoing?” “Well, it’s very intimidating.” “You don’t have a lot of facts and information relating to the part of this that we’re investigating. And those are the events from May 20 up until Sept. 11, the release of the security assistance funds — is that correct?” “Yes that’s correct.” “A lot’s been said about what was going on around the phone call. I’d like to focus more on what’s happened since then to you and your career and, and what’s going on. So when you got the word — anytime an ambassador changes post there’s a process you go through to pick what you do next.” “I recall that there was the fellowship at Georgetown, and asked whether that might be something that could be arranged.” “Georgetown is fertile ground for State Department recruitment of future fledgling foreign service officers, and so they now benefit from your experience and your inspiration, to inspire them to perhaps spend their professional life in service to our nation.” “It’s like a Hallmark movie — you ended up at Georgetown. This is all O.K. [laughter] But it wasn’t your preference seven, eight months ago, correct?” “No it was not.” “Wasn’t your preference to be the victim of a smear campaign, was it?” “No.” “Wasn’t your preference to be defamed by the president of the United States, including today, was it?” “No.” “President Obama had the right to make his own foreign policy and make his own decisions as president of the United States, correct?” “Yeah — I mean there’s an interagency process. And obviously Congress has a role as well —” “But he has the right as president — I respect the interagency process, I’m getting to that actually. But he has the right to make his own foreign policy and make his own decisions as president of the United States as do all presidents, correct?” “Yes. But what I’d like to say is while I obviously don’t dispute that the president has the right to withdraw an ambassador at any time for any reason — but what I do wonder is why it was necessary to smear my reputation — falsely? “Well I wasn’t asking about that, but thank you very much ma’am.” “I would just say to the American people, today’s show trial has come to an end. We’re headed down now to the basement of the Capitol to go until, I don’t know what time. But we’ll be back there hiding again behind the closed doors, interviewing more witnesses that you may or may not be able to see in the public. I hate to break it to my colleagues, if there’s anyone else out there watching television ratings, but they must be plummeting right now.”

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Marie L. Yovanovitch, the former American ambassador to Ukraine, appeared before the House Intelligence Committee for the second public hearing of the impeachment inquiry.CreditCredit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

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