Ousted ambassador describes State Department in 'crisis' in dramatic impeachment testimony

The former top U.S. diplomat to Ukraine described a “crisis” at the State Department during her public impeachment testimony on Friday, voicing concern that the agency’s failure to protect foreign service officials who faced attacks for their work overseas put U.S. interests at risk.

Marie YovanovitchMarie YovanovitchThe State Department: Nonpartisan service on behalf of America Nunes: 'Sickening' that Schiff obtained his phone records Inventing the 'Deep State' and draining the real one MORE, who privately testified to House investigators last month, described a smear campaign led by Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiHillicon Valley: Apple, Facebook defend encryption during Senate grilling | Tech legal shield makes it into trade deal | Impeachment controversy over phone records heats up | TikTok chief cancels Capitol Hill meetings Giuliani: Trump asked me to brief Justice Department, GOP lawmakers on Ukraine trip The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by AdvaMed - Democrats to release articles of impeachment today MORE, corrupt Ukrainian officials and disreputable media figures who successfully facilitated her removal as the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine in May.

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“[T]he attacks are leading to a crisis in the State Department as the policy process is visibly unravelling, leadership vacancies going unfilled, and senior and mid-level officers ponder an uncertain future and head for the doors,” Yovanovitch testified.

"This not a time to undercut our diplomats,” she emphasized.

Yovanovitch also painted her removal as a “dangerously wrong” precedent in which private interests can remove an American diplomat is who seeking to faithfully carry out U.S. foreign policy.

“What continues to amaze me is that they found Americans willing to partner with them, and working together they apparently succeeded in orchestrating the removal of a U.S. Ambassador.”

“How could our system fail like this? How is it that foreign corrupt interests could manipulate our government,” Yovanovitch testified, adding that this played into the hands of “autocrats” like Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinPavlich: Impeachment does Russia's bidding Russian diplomat says election meddling wasn't discussed at White House, contradicting Trump Trump warned Russia's foreign minister against election interference, White House says MORE.

And Yovanovitch said she remains disappointed that the top brass of the State Department declined to defend her against these attacks, even after senior State Department officials pressed Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoRepublicans consider skipping witnesses in Trump impeachment trial GOP senator blocks bill aimed at preventing Russia election meddling Russian diplomat says election meddling wasn't discussed at White House, contradicting Trump MORE and other top officials to issue a statement of support.

"At the closed deposition, I expressed grave concerns about the degradation of the Foreign Service over the past few years and the failure of the State Department leadership to push back as foreign and corrupt interests apparently hijacked our Ukraine policy," she said in her opening remarks.

“I remain disappointed that the Department’s leadership and others have declined to acknowledge that the attacks against me and others are dangerously wrong," Yovanovitch continued.

The career civil servant, who has served for more than three decades, said this issue is trickling down to affect other foreign officers who are seeking to represent U.S. interests abroad.

“This is about far more than me or a couple of individuals. As Foreign Service professionals are being denigrated and undermined, the institution is also being degraded. This will soon cause real harm, if it hasn’t already,” she said.

Yovanovitch also expressed dismay that corrupt Ukrainians, who were upset about her anti-corruption efforts, could find Americans willing to work with them to facilitate her removal.