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Marie Yovanovitch Says State Department Is in Trouble

Ousted ambassador says leaders lack 'moral clarity'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 13, 2020 5:33 AM CST
Updated Feb 13, 2020 6:46 AM CST
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Former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch looks up at the audience as she speaks at Georgetown University in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
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(Newser) – In some of her first public remarks since she played a major role in impeachment proceedings, former ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch warned that the State Department is in trouble. Yovanovitch, who was ousted after pressure from President Trump's allies last year, spoke about the "hollowing out" of the department as she accepted the Trainor Award for Excellence in the Conduct of Diplomacy at Georgetown University Wednesday, the New York Times reports. "The policy process has been replaced by the decisions emanating from the top with little discussion," Yovanovitch said, per CNN. "Vacancies at all levels go unfilled and officers are increasingly wondering whether it is safe to express concerns about policy, even behind closed doors." She retired from the department two weeks ago after 33 years.

Yovanivtch said the department's orders are now coming from leaders who "lack policy vision, moral clarity, and leadership skills." She warned that America's allies may end up seeking "more reliable" partners. "To be blunt, an amoral, keep-them-guessing foreign policy that substitutes threats, fear, and confusion for trust cannot work over the long haul," she said. Yovanovitch, who was strongly criticized by Trump after testifying at impeachment hearings, described her time in the spotlight as a "through-the-looking-glass experience" and said she had to "dig deep a little bit" to get through it, the Guardian reports. "During some of those times, I lost my sense of humor, but I'm glad I found it again, because that is also very helpful." (Trump could be heard calling for her firing in a recording that surfaced last month.)

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