Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, who played a key role in the U.S. House hearings on the impeachment of President Donald Trump last November, has retired from the State Department, according to U.S. media reports on January 31.
Yovanovitch was abruptly recalled from Kyiv in May 2019 following an intense campaign to oust her that was coordinated by Trump's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani. After her recall following a 33-year career in the foreign service, Yovanovitch remained on the State Department payroll while teaching at Washington's Georgetown University.
In November, Yovanovitch testified before the House impeachment inquiry, accusing Giuliani of organizing an "irregular channel" of diplomacy in Ukraine that was aimed, in part, at promoting Trump's domestic political interests.
"Shady interests the world over have learned how little it takes to remove an American ambassador who does not give them what they want," Yovanovitch told the inquiry.
According to a summary released by the White House, Trump told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy during a telephone conversation on July 25, 2019, that Yovanovitch was "bad news."
"She's going to go through some things," Trump also said.
The State Department announced earlier this month that it was looking into evidence that Yovanovitch may have been under surveillance while she was in Kyiv.
That announcement came days after Lev Parnas, a Ukraine-born U.S. citizen who has been indicted on campaign-finance charges and who was an associate of Giuliani's, released documents relating to his efforts to help Giuliani find incriminating material against former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden.
The documents also indicated that Connecticut Republican congressional candidate Robert Hyde disparaged Yovanovitch in messages to Parnas and gave Parnas updates on her location and mobile-phone use.
"We will do everything we need to do to evaluate whether there was something that took place," U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said during a January 17 radio interview. "I suspect that much of what has been reported will ultimately prove wrong, but our obligation -- my obligation as secretary of state -- is to make sure that we evaluate, investigate. Any time there is someone who posits that there may have been a risk to one of our officers, we'll obviously do that."
On January 16, officials in Ukraine announced they would launch a criminal investigation into the information that Yovanovitch may have been under surveillance.
On January 25, Parnas released an audio recording of an April 2018 meeting between Trump and a group of donors that appears to include Parnas. In the recording, Parnas can be heard telling Trump that Yovanovitch was "basically walking around telling everybody, 'wait, he's going to be impeached.'"
"Get rid of her," Trump responds. "Get her out tomorrow. I don't care. Get her out tomorrow. Take her out."