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Ambassador Yovanovitch steely despite Trump attack

Former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch testifies before

Former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch testifies before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington on Friday during the second public impeachment hearing of President Donald Trump's efforts to tie U.S. aid for Ukraine to investigations of his political opponents. Credit: AP/Alex Brandon

Former Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch endured months of a smear campaign, intimidation and personal attacks, a "very painful period" for the 33-year diplomat.

But the worst, perhaps, was yet to come. When Yovanovitch testified Friday at the House Intelligence Committee's impeachment hearing of President Donald Trump, a direct assault came from the president himself. Trump tweeted during her testimony, "Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad," citing places where she worked that had been in trouble before she got there.  

In a stunning exchange, committee chairman Adam Schiff showed Yovanovitch the tweet. "It's very intimidating," she said.

If Yovanovitch was bothered, imagine how future witnesses must steel themselves for potential Trump barrages. 

It's not the first time Trump chose to disparage a credible witness, in this case a career foreign officer. Denigrating Yovanovitch as she testified was inappropriate and alarming, and Trump's response later — that he has a right to speak like anyone else — doesn't hold up. The president shouldn't besmirch witnesses and employees.

Coincidentally, Yovanovitch's testimony and Trump's attacks came just as Trump ally Roger Stone was found guilty of witness tampering and other charges.

Yovanovitch had felt the brunt of Trump's Twitter account before. She recounted how State Department officials, worried a Trump tweet might contradict them, refused to support her as his allies shamelessly attacked her.

On Friday, Yovanovitch showed courage, speaking steadily and authoritatively about efforts to undermine her credibility and remove her as ambassador. This was a public servant whose parents fled the Soviet and Nazi regimes for a better life — the quintessential immigrant story. On Friday, she stood up to Trump and all who have assailed her.  The nation is better for it.

A telling moment came at the end, when she was greeted with sustained applause. — The editorial board