I saw real American heroes in the past few weeks. I am in awe of their honor, integrity, non-partisanship, love for America, eloquence and professionalism. For those who missed the impeachment hearings either live or recorded, let me give you a small taste of what was said.
Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch has been in the foreign service for 33 years, served under both Republican and Democratic administrations to advance the policy of the United States, and was stationed in many hardship posts. Her opening statement was riveting. She detailed at length the strategic importance of Ukraine and how it has been a bipartisan effort in Congress to fund anti-corruption efforts and provide military aid to them to thwart their vulnerability to Russia.
She testified that for unknown reasons she was smeared in the Ukrainian and American press by Rudy Giuliani. When she was removed from the ambassadorship, the state department said she had “done nothing wrong.” Embassy staffer George Kent and Ambassador Bill Taylor testified to the truth of this smear campaign against her and all three decided to defy White House orders and offer their testimony. She also said neither the Obama administration nor the Clinton campaign asked her to harm the Trump campaign nor would she have helped if asked. She left the room to a standing ovation.
Gordon Sondland, ambassador to the EU testified President Trump told him to “talk to Rudy” about Ukraine interfering in the 2016 election, political investigations of Joe Biden and his son and the search for the “server." These theories have been part of an ongoing conspiracy theory that has been discredited many times. Former National security aide Dr. Fiona Hill and David Holmes, a State Department adviser in Kyiv testified that Gordon Sondland carried out a “domestic political errand” for President Trump. Dr. Hill forcefully said “I refuse to be part of an effort to legitimize an alternative narrative that the Ukrainian government is a U.S. adversary, and that Ukraine – not Russia – attacked us in 2016.”
Many more employees from the State Department, the National Security Council and the Department of Defense also testified. And just as Yovanovitch, Hill and Holmes they impressed me with their non-partisanship, professionalism and integrity.
Congress had approved military funds for Ukraine to help in their war against Russia. President Trump and Mick Mulvaney held the funds for 55 days until the whistleblower complaint made the news. Under bipartisan congressional pressure the funds were finally released. Testimony also showed that President Trump wanted the new Ukraine president to announce an investigation into the debunked conspiracy theory noted above. President Trump said he would only release the aid if the investigations were announced. President Trump also changed his mind about the White House meeting he had offered earlier. That too wouldn’t happen until the Ukraine president complied with President Trump’s demands.
At this Thanksgiving 2019, I give fervent thanks for our non-partisan and honorable foreign service, State Department and DOD employees.