Special Report: Former U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch Testifies
Today's dramatic events in Washington this morning Marie Yvonna Vich arrived at the US Capitol Complex she met House investigators to testify in the impeachment in ought to Martin and this is David Green and we have an up first special report for you today gives us some background on the person at the center of good news out and they themselves can counter the Russian propaganda efforts in November two thousand sixteen the new ambassador invited civil society in this reception yourself for many Ukrainians the victory also trump was a big surprise some were dismayed since trump seemed enthusiastically waving yellow and light blue Ukrainian flags into a bitterly cold perfectly clear sky as Ukrainians Hugh crain and we congratulate our democracy and she didn't express any frustration or anything remember she's a career diplomat it was the US ambassador to Ukraine it was a former Soviet republic with many russian-speakers so he hired russian-speaking Ivanovich as his deputy this immigrant it's an honor to appear before you today as President Obama's nominee to serve as the US ambassador to Ukraine her confirmation hearing in two thousand sixteen she community my parents survive poverty war and displacement they finally arrived in the United States with me to- in search of freedom accountability controversy there were assignment was tough Russia had invaded Ukraine at that two thousand sixteen confirmation she told senators she was open to providing military aid. Yeah I made arrest this week agents picked up to associates of president trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani an indictment says they made illegal campaign donations while trying to have aid to Ukraine she also said she'd keep promoting civil society building capacity within the journalistic community within civil society themselves can get there sympathetic to Russia but Kalinic recalls the US Ambassador Delivering this reassuring message United States will continue being then partner and supportive all we know and understand Steve inskeep reconstructs the Ambassador Story Marie Louise Yvonna Vich has testified before Congress before members of this committee thousands four not long after she finished her first assignment in Ukraine those groups made history one of our correspondents looked on a sea of several hundred thousand people the US citizen was part of the US foreign service she had already been based in Moscow she'd been based in Somalia she really understood what it was to work and and Opportunity Maria Louisa Vich is an immigrant her family came from the former Soviet Union it was a Russian speaking family and she answered to an affectionate embassador Ivanovich fired so who is the ambassador and how to make enemies in president trump's world this is a really complicated so we have dug deeply to find out unlike some ambassadors who are friends or supporters of a president she served whoever was in the White House Ukrainian say she was professional and worked hard to represent us the witness table with short hair glasses and a tan suit she had brought along her elderly mother like so many in Europe in the nineteen forties including those in the cream policy. Natalia domestic had many dealings with the ambassador as a journalist he was a good diplomat but very very reserved so she was extremely cautious difficult hardship posts one of the key things in emerging Ukraine were the foundations for civil society that retained check and balance on power and government activists and others to an event to mark America's presidential election Daria Cologne Yuck our Ukrainian anti corruption activist was among those who attended ambassador advantage was host Russian version of her name Marie everybody that ever worked with her newer as Masha Carlos Pascual worked with Masha Ivanovich because in the early two thousands he displaced their government after a dispute election years later Yovani Vich returned to Ukraine this time is the top diplomat the ambassador the Senate confirmed without civil society that phrase means journalists activists and citizens groups whose work is vital for Democracy Yovani Vich made it her business to track and understand them in to that she would never say anything beyond what the diplomat can say yet the ambassador made enemies some Ukrainians called her narrow minded and bureaucratic and then there were the two business associates of Rudy Giuliani the men arrested this week they had business in Ukraine federal prosecutors say they wanted to please Ukrainian officials who disliked the ambassador so they tried to gain influence in the US government they allegedly made illegal campaign contributions and are efforts paid off in two thousand eighteen they donated to Texas Congressman Pete sessions and sessions wrote a letter demanding that the ambassador be dismissed sessions made an allegation that was toxic in the trump administration he claimed his cautious by the book ambassador criticized President Trump showing quote disdain for the current administration sessions has denied his campaign contributors told him to say that ambassador Uganda which was not fired at that time in two thousand eighteen but were I was coming the Ukrainian anti corruption activist Daria Kolenovic says the ambassador had another enemy basically ambassador Ivanovich was France for civil society activists in Ukraine and this is what utilize Sankoh and other corrupt officials in power D raccoons Asians in a formal complaint they sent the US Treasury Department that complaint which NPR has obtained Lutsenko is accused of enriching himself and targeted really an honor and a pleasure to be here to celebrate this is a speech the ambassador gave on March five two thousand nineteen before a group called the Ukraine crisis me anti-corruption investigators this made him justice sort of official the US ambassador called out on his how you thank you and it's not slide. Cinco was Ukraine's prosecutor general and a vital figure in what happened next civil society groups called him corrupt they recently summarized a center she said Ukraine's government was backsliding in its efforts against corruption it is increasingly clear that Ukraine's once in a generation Opportunity Unity for change has not yet resulted in the anti-corruption or rule of law reforms that Ukrainians expect or deserve soon after this speech that Ukrainian prosecutor struck back your reload Sankoh suggested the US ambassador was really the corrupt one bonner of a Ukrainian newspaper called the post says Lutsenko was suggesting the ambassador was protecting someone and it turned out to be false A right-leaning website in the US ambassador you gave me a list of people whom we should not prosecute should not prosecute Brian difficult personal relationship with the missing buster on March twenty two thousand Nineteen Lutsenko gave this interview through an interpreter to Hill TV that's the ambassador reached a TV program very popular with the President of the United States completely false State Department denied it and loot sinker retracted but by then the toxic claim had spread the very night of the Hill TV report another accusation Sean Hannity of Fox News interviewed a lawyer linked to the president on this primetime show Joe Digenova suddenly denounced the previously obscure ambassador and we also I don't know that the current United States Ambassador Marie Ivanovich has bad mouth the president of the United States to Ukrainian official also we asked to Geneva where he got that information and he declined to say on March Twenty Four Donald Trump junior attack the ambassador on twitter and in April the interviewed the president himself let me start with this issue of the Ukraine Hannity asked the president if he followed conservative media reporting on Ukraine the president was vague but said the stories should win a Pulitzer Prize these are the ones that should be winning it sounds like big stuff it sounds like a very interesting with Ukraine weeks later in the spring of two in nineteen ambassador Giovanni which was called home from her job before the end of her assignment now why would these toxic claims go so directly from you crane to people around the president here's at least part of the answer Ukrainians who opposed her were also sources for the president's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani accused of corruption. He met Giuliani at least twice that's according to the report filed by a US government whistle blower the president's lawyer developed a negative he was on a months long search for political dirt in Ukraine to help president trump the two indicted businessmen they were helping Giuliani find information that prosecutor in point t in Ukraine so the career US ambassador whose friends call her nonpartisan had to return early to Washington but there is irony here things did not get you the US ambassador he later claimed on CNN that she stopped him from interviewing witnesses they were trying to get to us but they were being blocked by the ambassador who was Obama an inquiry in July Taylor send text messages which are now public he said quote I think it's crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign reporters yesterday and distanced himself from this whole case says he didn't know the to campaign contributors have been arrested although some of the money was in support of him says he doesn't know why easier for the president or his lawyer. Marie Louise Giovanni which was replaced by another career diplomat Bill Taylor and Taylor now has an indelible place in the impeach the president's moves are now at the center of the impeachment inquiry which raises a question right did president trump know about anything you have just reported where he says no the president spoke Rudy Giuliani would have known them but the available evidence suggests something a little different what evidence while the phone call the one at the center of the impeachment inquiry the phone call president trump as we know did withhold military aid to Ukraine while also demanding his rival Joe Biden be investigated for acts in Ukraine so see to the president of Ukraine where president trump asks for favors including an investigation of Joe Biden President Trump also mentioned the ambassadors recent dismissal. He says of her quote the woman was bad news says she dealt with people who were also bad news so from that record of the call Rachel it's clear that the president knew of her and this has been a special report from up I again today Ambassador Ivanovich is testifying before House missile and that he'd heard the attacks on this career US diplomat and that he agreed with them. Okay fascinating reporting by our own Steve Inskeep thanks so much thank you condition. I'm David Green and I'm Rachel Martin Corey into President Trump Ivanovich was US ambassador to Ukraine until the trump administration recalled her her dismissal is part of a second investigation in which the investigators here in Washington and now that we have the background of her story you can hear more about her testimony as we learn it on the radio if you tune into NPR's all things considered and also we.