As of Sunday, November 17, 2019, when I wrote my column, there had only been three witnesses who testified in open session at President Trump’s impeachment hearing: Acting Ukraine Ambassador William Taylor, Assistant Deputy Secretary of State George Kent, and the former United States Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovich.
I am not going to repeat the extensive credentials that these three individuals have in foreign service. However, the most impressive portion of their testimony is their dedication and attempt to act in a manner that is in the best interests of the United States.
Ms. Yovanovich’s opening was a passioned defense of those who work in the foreign service. I, like most people, take their work for granted. After listening to her opening statement, which I recommend that you read, I appreciate not only the expertise but also the personal sacrifice that comes with being in the foreign service.
These people, who the Trumpians like to call the “deep state,” are individuals who we should be proud of and thank for the great job they do and the risk to their careers that they have taken by coming forward.
This is in contrast to those who were involved in a shadow diplomacy that was solely for political purposes and not in our country’s interest. Those involved include the president’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who has no diplomatic experience and is under investigation by his old office regarding his conduct in Ukraine, and the million-dollar man Gordon Sondland, the United States ambassador to the European Union. Sondland’s qualifications for the post was that he donated 1 million dollars to the Trump Inauguration Committee. Giuliani’s associates included Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, who were indicted for campaign law violations. They allegedly used a shell company to make a $325,000 donation to a SuperPAC called America First Action and raised money for the campaign of Texas Rep. Pete Sessions. This was part of a scheme to have the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine removed from office. I guess that is draining the swamp Trump style. “Say it ain’t so, Joe.”
Ms. Yovanovich testified about a campaign led by Rudy Giuliani and corrupt Ukrainians to force her out of office with the blessing of the president. She was shocked when she read the “transcript” of the phone call between Trump and the Ukrainian president because Trump disparaged her, and she felt threatened when Trump said that she was “going to go through some things.”
The president did his best to prove the point by tweeting the following in the middle of Yovanovich’s testimony on Friday, November 15, 2019:
“Everywhere Marie Yovanovich went turned bad. She started off in Somalia, how did that go? Then fast forward to Ukraine, where the new Ukrainian President spoke unfavorably about her in my second phone call with him. It is a U.S. President’s absolute right to appoint ambassadors.”
Ms. Yovanovich’s response was: “It’s very intimidating…I can’t speak to what the president is trying to do, but I think the effect is to be intimidating.”
It was not a surprise that Republican congressional members such as Liz Cheney decided to criticize the president for his tweet. The president did not act in such a manner when the two men (William Taylor and George Kent) testified. His first lashing out in real time was when a woman was testifying. It does not help the Republican Party with suburban women, who were an important part of the Republican Party’s success.
As Ms. Yovanovich stated, although the president may have the right to fire her, he did not have to attack her in such a way. This would also radiate with anyone who has worked for a company or in government and had been treated in such a manner by their boss.
Those whose reputation has been diminished by the testimony are the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the vice president, who have not stood up to the president and defended their employees The most recent attack was on Sunday, November 17, 2019, when Trump attacked Jennifer Williams who is currently serving as a special adviser to the vice president for Europe and Russia. The vice president office’s response was that she is a State Department employee. This is also a situation that many employees can relate to: having their direct supervisors not sticking up for them when hire-ups attack them.
In our country, it seems hard to believe that what happens at the hearing will change many minds on the impeachment issue, but it will help bury the “deep state” nonsense by some Trumpians who would rather have a government policy implemented by incompetent political hacks who may also be corrupt than leave it to the non-partisan professionals.