Former ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch retires

/ CBS News

Former Ukrainian ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, who testified in the House impeachment inquiry, is retiring from foreign service, CBS News' Margaret Brennan confirmed. In a recording made by an associate of Rudy Giuliani, Lev Parnas, in April 2018, President Trump was heard saying "get rid of her" and "take her out."

Yovanovitch testified in November that she was prematurely removed from her post due to a smear campaign orchestrated by "foreign corrupt interests" in Ukraine who worked with Trump allies to tarnish her reputation after 33 years in public service.

The news of Yovanovitch's retirement was first reported by NPR. Despite being forced out from her post in Kiev in May 2019, she had remained on the payroll, according to NPR.

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In her six-hour testimony in November, Yovanovitch said she was given no reason for her removal from Kiev and did not know why she was targeted by Rudy Giuliani. Giuliani told CBS News in January that he had "no idea" about efforts to track Yovanovitch.

Trump Impeachment
Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch testifies before the House Intelligence Committee on Friday, November 15, 2019, on Capitol Hill Jacquelyn Martin / AP

"There's a question as to why the kind of campaign to get me out of Ukraine happened, because all the president has to do is say he wants a different ambassador," Yovanovitch testified. "And in my line of work, perhaps in your line of work as well, all we have is our reputation. And so this has been a very painful period."

She said she felt threatened when she learned what Mr. Trump said about her on his now-infamous July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Mr. Trump said Yovanovitch was "bad news" and would be "going through some things," comments that she said provoked a physical reaction when she learned of them in September.

In a recording of a dinner of Trump donors provided to CBS News last week by Parnas' attorney, a man told Mr. Trump that the "the biggest problem — where we need to start — is we gotta get rid of the ambassador."

"Who? The ambassador to Ukraine?" Mr. Trump asked.

"Yeah, she's basically walking around telling everybody, 'Wait, he's gonna get impeached. Just wait.' You're going to be impeached," the person said.

"What's her name?" Mr. Trump asked.

"I don't remember," the person said.

"Get rid of her," Mr. Trump answered. "Get her out tomorrow. I don't care. Get her out tomorrow. Take her out. OK? Do it."

Mr. Trump has previously denied knowing Parnas, despite the existence of photos of the pair together. In an interview with Fox News on Sunday, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said she believed Parnas and another associate, Igor Fruman, were at the dinner at the invitation of Giuliani.

Parnas and Fruman helped Giuliani in his attempts to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden in Ukraine. Parnas, a Ukrainian-born U.S. citizen, and Fruman, originally from Belarus, were arrested on campaign finance charges at Dulles International Airport in October.

First published on January 31, 2020 / 9:35 PM

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