Impeachment inquiry hearing with former US Ambassador to Ukraine

By Veronica Rocha and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 3:33 p.m. ET, November 27, 2019
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6:59 a.m. ET, November 15, 2019

Meet Marie Yovanovitch, the ambassador at the center of the Ukraine controversy

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler and Chandelis Duster

Andrew Caballero-Reynold/AFP/Getty Images
Andrew Caballero-Reynold/AFP/Getty Images

Ambassador Marie "Masha" Yovanovitch will testify today at the second public hearing in the impeachment inquiry into President Trump.

Yovanovitch -- "someone who has never been hungry for the spotlight," as one former State Department official described her -- has increasingly found herself there as new developments in the Ukraine controversy have come to light.

But the former top US diplomat in Ukraine, maligned as "bad news" by President Trump and and known by her diplomatic peers as "one of the best," will share her perspective publicly today on Capitol Hill as part of the impeachment inquiry.

Since being unexpectedly removed from her post in Kiev in May, Yovanovitch has become increasingly ensnared at the center of the widening scandal.

"I would imagine for her this is pretty much worse than her worst nightmare in that not only are you being publicly criticized and condemned by your head of state but also the idea of all of this public attention. She's a pretty reserved person," the official told CNN.

Trump personally ordered Yovanovitch's removal, according to The Wall Street Journal. She was accused without evidence by Rudy Giuliani -- a former New York mayor and Trump's personal attorney -- and others of trying to undermine the President and blocking efforts to investigate Democrats like former Vice President Joe Biden.

Trump has twice disparaged Yovanovitch -- once in early October at the White House and another time in his July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

"The former ambassador from the United States, the woman, was bad news and the people she was dealing with in the Ukraine were bad news so I just want to let you know that," Trump said to Zelensky, according to a rough White House transcript.

Diplomatic support: The diplomatic community has rallied behind Yovanovitch since the contents of Trump's call were disclosed, and some former diplomats have also called for the State Department and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to lend their public support to the career foreign service officer.

Retired US Ambassador Nicholas Burns called for "the higher levels of the State Department" to "come out and defend her."

"They should say she was a good ambassador, she did what was asked. She did what her constitutional duty asked her to do, represent the United States ably and honorably," Burns told CNN. "She deserves an apology, a public apology."