Marie Yovanovitch, Georgetown senior state department fellow and former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, testified Oct. 11 in a House impeachment inquiry designed to investigate the alleged misconduct of President Donald Trump.
Yovanovitch, who was appointed by Barack Obama in August 2016, served as ambassador to Ukraine until May when President Trump relieved her of her duties. Yovanovitch testified at the hearing to Congress that she was targeted by Trump administration officials for removal as part of an organized effort to relieve her from her position.
Yovanovitch serves as a senior state department fellow at Georgetown’s Institute for the Study of Diplomacy, a branch of the School of Foreign Service. She is currently on personal leave from her role at the institute, according to Barbara Bodine, the director of the ISD.
Bodine does not expect that Yovanovitch’s testimony or further involvement in the investigation will negatively affect her role at Georgetown.
“We will continue to provide whatever support to her that is appropriate and useful to her,” Bodine wrote in an email to The Hoya.
The inquiry, led by House Democrats, has focused on Trump’s attempts to convince Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate the family of former Vice President Joe Biden. Biden’s son, Hunter, served on the board of the Ukrainian gas company Burisma from 2014 until the beginning of 2019.
After the ambassador learned she was being withdrawn from Ukraine, Yovanovitch met with Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan, who assured her she had done nothing wrong, according to Yovanovitch’s opening statement. Trump had lost confidence in her, however, and began putting pressure on the State Department to remove her in 2018, according to Yovanovitch’s testimony.
The SFS believes Yovanovitch can serve as an important resource for students when she returns because of her experience as a diplomat, according to SFS Dean Joel Hellman.
“We are trying to be fully supportive in the sense that we are excited to have her on campus,” Hellman said in an interview with The Hoya. “We are excited for her to be another resource with other senior diplomats for our students. We think she has a critical role to play in talking about the importance of foreign policy professionals at this moment.”
The SFS also looks forward to Yovanovitch working with students to give her perspective on her career in foreign service, according to Hellman.
“We are very excited to have her on campus and I think that her long career in the foreign service sort of suggests a kind of integrity and professionalism of foreign service officers in their engagement and service to administrations from both parties,” Hellman said.
Yovanovitch served as an American diplomat for 33 years before Trump fired her from the State Department, according to TIME. She had worked with both former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and current President Zelensky to pursue economic reform and anti-corruption policy.
Yovanovitch was withdrawn from Ukraine for reasons outside of her diplomatic ability, as she adequately fulfilled her duties as an American ambassador, according to Angela Stent, director of the Georgetown Center for Eurasian, Russian and East European Studies.
“She was doing her job as ambassador to Ukraine, and part of the job was to encourage the previous Ukrainian government and then the new one under Zelensky, and the previous one under Poroshenko, to really pursue an anti-corruption drive because the previous government really hadn’t done it that well,” Stent said in an interview with The Hoya. “It’s clear that she was fired for reasons that had nothing to do with her performance.”
Yovanovitch’s efforts to end corruption in the government might have threatened the Trump administration’s alleged efforts to coerce Ukraine into investigating the Biden family ahead of the 2020 election, according to Stent.
President Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani called for an investigation into Yovanovitch’s background in an Oct. 12 tweet. The call to investigate Yovanovitch illustrates that conducting diplomacy through outsiders without policy experience is problematic, according to Stent.
“I think she’s now become a real symbol of everything that’s wrong in the way the Trump administration is making some of its foreign policy,” Stent said.