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Impeachment witness: 'foreign corrupt interests' prevailed

Credit: Reuters - Politics
Published on November 15, 2019 - Duration: 02:47s

Impeachment witness: 'foreign corrupt interests' prevailed

A former American ambassador on Friday told lawmakers in the impeachment hearing that a smear campaign by corrupt Ukrainian officials in league with American associates of Donald Trump successfully drove her from her job.

Zachary Goelman reports.

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Impeachment witness: 'foreign corrupt interests' prevailed

A former American ambassador on Friday told lawmakers in the impeachment hearing that a smear campaign by corrupt Ukrainian officials in league with American associates of Donald Trump successfully drove her from her job.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE MARIE YOVANOVITCH, SAYING: "How could our system fail like this?

How is it that foreign corrupt interests could manipulate our government?" Marie Yovanovitch spent three decades in the foreign service and was abruptly fired from her position as the top American diplomat in Ukraine last spring.

She also featured in the White House summary of a July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

The president says "The former ambassador from the United States, the woman, was bad news and the people she was dealing with in the Ukraine were bad news." He later tells Zelenskiy, "well, she's going to go through some things." (SOUNDBITE) (English) FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE MARIE YOVANOVITCH, SAYING: "I was shocked and devastated that I would feature in a phone call be tween two heads of state in such a manner where President Trump said 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.

A person who saw me actually reading the transcript said that the color drained from my face.

I think I even had a physical reaction." As she testified, President Trump tweeted an attack on her, writing, "everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad," and asserting, "it is a U.S. President's absolute right to appoint ambassadors." (SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. DEMOCRATIC HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN ADAM SCHIFF, SAYING: "As we sit here testifying, the president is attacking you on Twitter." Democratic Chairman Adam Schiff called this witness intimidation, then read it during her testimony.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. DEMOCRATIC HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN ADAM SCHIFF ASKING FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE MARIE YOVANOVITCH: SCHIFF: "What effect do you think that has on other witnesses' willingness to come forward and expose wrong-doing." YOVANOVITCH: "Well, it's very intimidating." Yovanovitch described a smear campaign against her orchestrated by Trump's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, at a time when Giuliani was working to get Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE MARIE YOVANOVITCH, SAYING: โ€œI do not understand Mr. Giulianiโ€™s motives for attacking me.โ€ Yovanovitch said she appealed to the State Department, and her boss Mike Pompeo, to refute the allegations.

He did not.

Another witness testifying Wednesday argued that it was her reputation as an anti-corruption crusader made that her a target.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) GEORGE KENT, THE DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE FOR EUROPEAN AND EURASIAN AFFAIRS, SAYING: "You can't promote principled anti-corruption action without pissing off corrupt people." Democrats claim Trump abused his power for personal gain by urging Ukraine to investigate his political rivals while withholding military aid to the country.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. REPUBLICAN RANKING MEMBER OF THE HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE DEVIN NUNES, SAYING: "Democrats have convened us once again to advance their operation to topple a duly-elected president." Republicans called the impeachment hearing a sham, and pointed out that Yovanovitch had no first-hand knowledge of Trump's conversations with Zelenskiy.

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