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 YovanovitchMarie Yovanovitch on Vindman retirement: He 'deserved better than this. Our country deserved better than this' Cheney clashes with Trump Voters must strongly reject the president's abuses by voting him out this November MORE, who privately testified to House investigators last month, described a smear campaign led by Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiFeehery: Weak mayors destroy America's great cities Coronavirus concerns emerge around debates Giuliani says Black Lives Matter is 'domestic terrorist' group 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 PutinFauci: 'I seriously doubt' Russia's coronavirus vaccine is safe and effective Overnight Health Care: Russia claims it has coronavirus vaccine amid skepticism | Trump announces deal with Moderna for vaccine doses | Most states facing shortage of ICU doctors: research CNBC's Jim Cramer on 'Chernobyl II' Russian coronavirus vaccine: 'I'm gonna pass' 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 PompeoEngel: IG report shows Pompeo's 'sham' use of emergency declaration in arms sales Overnight Defense: Trump pushed to restore full National Guard funding | Watchdog faults Pompeo on civilian risk of Saudi arms sales Pelosi on 'disturbing situation' in Hong Kong: 'The world is watching' 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.