“The highlights of impeachment testimony paint Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch as a victim of character assassination by corrupt Ukrainians and US President Donald Trump. We read through all 317 pages to see what’s actually inside.
Yovanovitch testified before the House Intelligence Committee last month, and the transcript of the all-day proceedings was among the first made public by Chairman Adam Schiff (D-California) on Monday. Schiff’s office also released a nine-page“highlights” reel, which most reporters were all too happy to focus on.
Rather than accept the pre-sliced serving of this particular political sausage, we rolled up our sleeves and got to reading the whole thing ourselves. The final result is far less dramatic. It reveals a diplomat who made a whole lot of assumptions and retrospective conclusions based on media reporting. Her most frequently used phrase was “you know” – but she didn’t actually know a whole lot at all.
In the opening remarks that she ended up sharing with the Washington Post – despite the hearing being held behind locked doors – Yovanovitch denied being anti-Trump, favoring Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, or ever suggesting to anyone in Ukraine to refrain from prosecuting corruption.
She named now-former prosecutor Yury Lutsenko as one of the people who schemed to get rid of her, but could not explain why there was never any US pressure to get him fired – as there had been in the case of his predecessor Viktor Shokin, who reportedly investigated the company that had hired VP Joe Biden’s son onto its board of directors.
“We also had more leverage before. I mean, this was not easy. President Poroshenko and Mr. Shokin go way back. In fact, I think they are godfathers to each other’s children. So this was, you know, this was a big deal. But we had assistance, as did the IMF, that we could condition,” she said (p. 103). Shokhin was fired in March 2016, months before Yovanovitch was confirmed as US ambassador to Kiev.
Yovanovich did not seem to understand that in the famous July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, the US president was referring to Shokin – and Biden’s public boast about getting him fired – and not Lutsenko. Which is interesting, because she also revealed she knew about the call before the general public.”