Yovanovitch warns that the State Department is in trouble

Retired Ambassador Marie “Masha” Yovanovitch — a highly respected career diplomat who unwittingly became one of the central figures in the impeachment drama — warned about the degradation of the State Department and took veiled jabs at the Trump administration in her first public remarks since leaving the diplomatic service.

Retired Ambassador Marie “Masha” Yovanovitch — a highly respected career diplomat who unwittingly became one of the central figures in the impeachment drama — warned about the degradation of the State Department and took veiled jabs at the Trump administration in her first public remarks since leaving the diplomatic service.

During an event at Georgetown University, Yovanvotich warned that “right now the State Department is in trouble.” As she did in her impeachment inquiry hearing remarks, she also warned that the department was being hollowed out. The former US ambassador to Ukraine said that the department’s senior leaders lacked moral clarity, the policy process had been replaced with decisions from the top with little discussion, and she said diplomats wondered if they could express concerns, even behind the scenes.

“We need to re-empower our diplomats to do their job. We can’t be afraid to share our expertise or challenge false assumptions,” Yovanovitch said. “Working off of facts is not the trademark of the deep state but of the deeply committed state in the words of Ambassador McFaul. Truth matters,” she added referring to the former ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul.

She quipped that international institutions need “a reboot, not the boot,” and said the principles upon which they were established remain the US’ “true north.”

Yovanovitch was critical of the Trump administration’s proposed 22% cut to the international affairs budget, noting that it was hard to see how cutting the budget for World Health Organization during the coronavirus outbreak keeps America safe. She also said the fact that military leaders were advocating for the State Department budget clearly indicated that there was a problem.

Yovanovitch who retired from the State Department last month was removed from her post as the US ambassador in Kiev in May 2019 after a targeted campaign against her led by allies of President Donald Trump.

Yovanovitch served as a witness in the House impeachment inquiry, testifying both publicly and privately. She was repeatedly maligned by Trump — including on a call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Although the diplomatic corps continually rallied to her side, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo repeatedly failed to defend her from attacks. On Friday, Pompeo denied that he felt any “moral tension” about how she had been treated.

Yovanovitch took the stage at Georgetown University to a standing ovation to receive an award from the School of Foreign Service.

Bill Taylor who took over the role of top diplomat in Ukraine when she was recalled and also served as a key impeachment witness was also in the audience.

This story is breaking and will be updated.

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