Who is Marie Yovanovitch? Ambassador testifying at the impeachment hearing

Image: Marie Yovanovitch
Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, arrives at the U.S. Capitol on Oct. 11, 2019 in Washington. Copyright Chip Somodevilla Getty Images file
By Dareh Gregorian with NBC News Politics
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She was recalled from her post on the orders of the president, who called her 'bad news' in a phone call with his Ukrainian counterpart.


Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch — who is testifying in the House impeachment inquiry on Friday — was derided by President Donald Trump as "bad news" in a phone call with his Ukrainian counterpart.

"She's going to go through some things," Trump told President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in a phone conversation that's at the center of the impeachment probe.

Why was Ambassador Yovanovitch recalled from her Ukraine posting?

Yovanovitch told House investigators she'd already been through some things — she'd had her reputation smeared by Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who was seizing on Ukrainian disinformation that she'd been badmouthing the president, was blocking corruption investigations by circulating a "do not prosecute" list and stymying his investigation into the Bidens. She denied all the allegations under oath, and her colleagues have testified that she was the victim of disinformation tactics that had been used on U.S. officials for years.

"Amb. Yovanovitch is a dedicated American diplomat who was forced from her position after a vicious smear campaign orchestrated by the president's allies," House Intelligence Committee chair Adam Schiff tweeted lasted week.

Here's what you need to know about the longtime diplomat:

  • She was born in Canada after her parents fled Nazi and communist regimes, and moved to Connecticut when she was 3 years old.
  • Her nickname is Masha.
  • She's a graduate of Princeton, where she studied the former Soviet Union.
  • Yovanovitch has been a foreign service officer for 33 years, and served in six presidential administrations — four Republican and two Democrat.
  • She's been appointed ambassador three times — twice by Republican George W. Bush and once by Democrat Barack Obama. She was ambassador to Kyrgyzstan from 2005 to 2008 and ambassador to Armenia from 2008 to 2011. She was U.S. ambassador to Ukraine from August 2016 until her abrupt removal in May.

How is Yovanovitch involved in the Trump-Ukraine dealings?

Here are key details from her Oct. 11closed-door testimony:

  • Said she was a victim of claims promoted by right-wing media outlets that she'd been badmouthing the presidentand had presented Ukrainian officials with a "do not prosecute" list were made up whole cloth.
  • When she asked him for advice on how to deal with the campaign against her, U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland told her she should tweet out support or praise for Trump if she wanted to save her job. "He said, 'You know, you need to go big or go home,'" Yovanovitch said, adding that she declined to take his suggestion because it would not have been appropriate for an ambassador.
  • A top State Department official, John Sullivan, told her she was being removed from her post on the president's orders because he'd lost confidence in her, even though she had "done nothing wrong." "He added that there had been a concerted campaign against me, and that the department had been under pressure from the president to remove me since the summer of 2018," Yovanovitch said.
  • She was "surprised and dismayed" when she found out the contents of the president's July 25 call with his Kyiv counterpart.
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