Who Is Marie Yovanovitch and What the Heck Does She Have to do With Impeachment?

By Rachel Rochford (’23)


As the impeachment trials have moved ahead, it has been easy to feel as though we are behind the process, still trying to figure out what exactly is happening. One of many the many questions people have: who exactly is involved? Key players range from Rudy Guiliani, the president’s personal lawyer to Chief Justice Roberts of the Supreme Court who is presiding over the impeachment hearings. One of the names that most people have the hardest time placing though belongs to American diplomat Marie Yovanovitch. 

Ms. Yovanovitch was born in 1958 to parents who had fled from the Soviet Union. She grew up speaking Russian and earned her degree in history and Russian studies from Princeton in 1980. Ms. Yovanovitch then joined the US foreign service in 1986. Yovanovitch had a very successful career in the foreign service that eventually led to her appointment as Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan in 2004. She stayed in that position for four years until 2008. From there she was appointed as the Ambassador to Armenia. During this post, Yovanovitch was awarded the Secretary’s Diplomacy in Human Rights Award, which is given to ambassadors who show “extraordinary commitment to defending human rights.” 

Yovanovitch continued with her successful career and in 2016, she was sworn in as the US Ambassador to Ukraine. Once in that position, Yovanovitch worked very hard to battle corruption in Ukraine. However, when the Ukraine scandal surrounding the president surfaced, Yovanovitch found herself in the line of fire. 

Yovanovitch was removed from her position as Ambassador by President Trump on April 24th of 2019, though it’s said that the President had been calling for her removal since the summer of 2018. The impeachment trial we see today is rooted in President Trump’s interactions with President Zelensky of Ukraine, specifically, Trump’s asking Zelensky to look into Hunter Biden, Joe Biden’s son, and his withholding of funds meant for Ukraine that have since made it there. Because of this, it is widely thought that Marie Yovanovitch was recalled because she was a worry for Trump in Ukraine due to her firm stance on corruption. Since her recall, Ms. Yovanovitch has been able to testify. During this, she stated that she was suffering from false claims from the right-wing media who accused her of speaking ill of Trump and giving a “do not prosecute” list to a Ukrainian prosecutor. For context, the US State Department has said that the claims relating to a “do not prosecute” list are completely false. To summarize, Marie Yovanovitch was an ambassador who was recalled to the US because of false allegations against her which is how she relates to the impeachment investigation and the reason her name keeps popping up on the news.

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