Former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch accused the Trump administration of “undermining” American political ideals and called for Americans to “fight” for democracy in a Washington Post op-ed published Thursday.
Yovanovitch, who was removed from her post in May 2019 amid a campaign against her by Trump associates, alternated between dire warnings and hope for the future in the wake of the president’s acquittal Wednesday in his Senate impeachment trial.
“I have seen dictatorships around the world, where blind obedience is the norm and truth-tellers are threatened with punishment or death,” she wrote. “We must not allow the United States to become a country where standing up to our government is a dangerous act.”
Yovanovitch continued, claiming that “the last year has shown that we need to fight for our democracy,” and that Americans must “stand up for our values, defend our institutions, participate in civil society and support a free press.”
The former ambassador drew national attention when she testified during the House’s impeachment inquiry. A career diplomat who has served both Republican and Democratic presidents, Yovanovitch relayed in detail her story of being suddenly recalled by President Donald Trump in May, saying she believes his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani played a key role in telling people she was not sufficiently supportive of the president.
“It has been shocking to experience the storm of criticism, lies and malicious conspiracies that have preceded and followed my public testimony, but I have no regrets,” she wrote.
During the inquiry, House Democrats worked to connect the circumstances of Yovanovitch’s ouster to Trump’s alleged pressure campaign to enlist Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in an effort to damage potential 2020 election rival former Vice President Joe Biden.
Yovanovitch said that when she and her colleagues “saw senior officials taking actions they considered deeply wrong,” they “did not hesitate” to speak out,“ even when faced with pressure to remain silent.
“This administration, through acts of omission and commission, has undermined our democratic institutions, making the public question the truth and leaving public servants without the support and example of ethical behavior that they need to do their jobs and advance U.S. interests.”
At the same time, Yovanovitch – who retired from the State Department at the end of January, expressed confidence in her former agency and hope for the future.
“The State Department is filled with individuals of integrity and professionalism. They advance U.S. interests every day — whether they are repatriating Americans vulnerable to a pandemic, reporting on civil unrest, negotiating military basing rights or helping a U.S. company navigate a foreign country,” she said, adding, “While it is bittersweet to retire from a job that I love, I know there is a new generation of experts who will advance our interests in an increasingly dangerous world.”
Fox News’ Adam Shaw, Alex Pappas and The Associated Press contributed to this report.