As onetime US ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch came under attack from some of President Trump’s allies — including his son, Donald Trump Jr., — she pressed the State Department to issue a statement supporting her.
But such a statement never came because officials were worried Trump might “undermine” it with his own messages.
Speaking during a congressional deposition on Oct. 11, Yovanovitch said she felt a statement from Washington was necessary to maintain her credibility in Kiev.
“If you have the President's son saying, you know, we need to pull these clowns, or however he referred to me, it makes it hard to be a credible ambassador in a country,” she said.
She said she wanted a statement of support from the State Department, and spoke with acting assistant secretary Phil Reeker about it.
“What I wanted was the secretary of state to issue a statement that said that, you know, I have his full confidence or something like that, to indicate that I, in fact, am the ambassador in Ukraine, and that I speak for the President, for the Secretary of State, for our country," she testified.
She said she heard from Reeker that after discussions with senior State Department staff, there was concern that such a statement could be undercut by the President himself.
“I was told there was caution about any kind of statement, because it could be undermined,” she said.
She clarified the concern was about the President himself undermining his own agency in a “tweet or something,” though she said it wasn’t clear to her how the undermining might occur.
She said it was ultimately made clear that “non statement was going to be issued, not by the Secretary, not by anybody else.”