It’s notable that in the last few days, we’ve seen two women, Marie Yovanovitch and Fiona Hill, come forward to testify before the various committees conducting an impeachment inquiry into the actions of President Trump, surrounding his phone call to the Ukrainian President.
By all accounts, even though we haven’t seen the transcripts, they’ve given powerful testimony, both exhibiting a full grasp of the issues commensurate with their long histories of serving at the State Department and the National Security Council. In other words, here are two powerful women, intelligent and patriotic, who’ve served with distinction and honor for the United States government. Not only that, but both are experts in their particular field of foreign diplomacy, invaluable resources in how we relate to various situational hotspots around the world.
Is it any wonder that the President doesn’t care for either of these two brave women? Of course not. It’s blatantly obvious that both of these women have vowed to serve and protect the Constitution of the United States–not the current President. To Donald Trump, they may as well be pariahs. How dare they stand in the way of his scheme to enlist a foreign government to find dirt on his political opponent? Loyalty to HIM is the only way to achieve his blessing. Thankfully, these women don’t seem to give a damn about that. And we owe them a debt of gratitude.
So, in their honor, I’d like to share some biographical information on both of these women, if nothing else, to distinguish them from the President of the United States. It’s the least I can do.
Ambassador Yovanovitch was born in 1958 in Canada, moved to Connecticut when she was three and became a naturalized American citizen at age eighteen. Her paternal grandparents were of Russian Serbian origin, and she grew up speaking Russian.
She’s a graduate of Kent School, a private boarding school in Connecticut, and Princeton University, where she earned a B.A. in History and Russian Studies in 1980. She also studied at the Pushkin Institute in 1980 and was awarded an M.S. From the National Defense University’s National War College in 2001.
She joined the U.S. foreign service in 1986; her first assignment was in Ottawa, followed by overseas assignments, including Moscow, London, and Mogadishu. From May 1998 to May 2000, she served as the Deputy Director of the Russian Desk in the U.S. Department of State.
From August 2001 to June 2004, as a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, she was the Deputy Chief of Mission in Kyiv, Ukraine. From August 2004 to May 2005, she was the Senior Advisor to the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs.
She was confirmed in 2005 by the U.S. Senate as the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the U.S. to the Kyrgyz Republic. She also served as U.S. Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan from November 2004 to February 2008 and U.S. Ambassador to Armenia from August 2008 to June 2011.
She became U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine on August 18, 2016. In May 2019, the Trump administration recalled her. To shed some light on that recall, here is a snippet of her opening statement from testimony she gave before the House Committees on Oversight and Reform, Foreign Affairs and Intelligence:
“Understanding Ukraine’s recent history, including the significant tension between those who seek to transform the country and those who wish to continue profiting from the old ways, is of critical importance to understanding the events you asked me here today to describe. Many of those events—and the false narratives that emerged from them—resulted from an unfortunate alliance between Ukrainians who continue to operate within a corrupt system, and Americans who either did not understand that corrupt system, or who may have chosen, for their own purposes, to ignore it.”
Born in October 1965, in Bishop Auckland, U.K., Hill is a foreign affairs specialist and national security official specializing in the former Soviet Union, Russia, and European affairs.
She studied at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, and Harvard, where she earned a Masters Degree in Russian and Modern History in 1991 and a Ph.D. in history in 1998.
She worked in the research department at the John F. Kennedy School of Government from 1991 to 1999 and at the National Intelligence Council as national intelligence officer for Russia and Eurasia from 2006 and 2009, under both the Bush and Obama administrations.
Trump appointed Hill in April 2017 as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director of Russian and European Affairs on his National Security Staff. She decided to step down from this position in August 2019, and yesterday she testified for nearly 10 hours as part of the impeachment inquiry.
The Deep State Bites Back
We now know that the President tried to limit and or stop both women from testifying. Congressional Democrats, knowing this would be the case, issued subpoenas for both. Other Trump administration officials like former White House Counsel Don McGahn have abided by the President’s demands not to testify. To their credit, Hill and Yovanovitch did not.
Perhaps we’re entering a new phase in the impeachment inquiry. It could be that the President’s fear of the so-called Deep State is slowly starting to come to fruition. When he talks about the Deep State, we know he’s merely talking about the dedicated public servants who come to work each day, serving their country and doing the types of jobs that help keep us safe. To him, though, these people are a direct threat to him—and his survival as President.
Honor and decency cannot be said in the same sentence when describing this President. It’s why Fiona Hill and Marie Yovanovitch, and others like them, get under his skin so much. He’s done his best to undermine our democracy and blow up the norms and precedent we so dearly need for our nation’s survival. Finally, it seems, a few brave souls are beginning to call him out for what looks like an appalling abuse of power.
In the future, here’s hoping we honor Hill and Yovanovitch, and others, who decide that our Constitution is more important than one man. The resumes of these two brave women speak loudly. They flash like a bright neon sign. Knowing that these are the types of people we have working in our government gives me hope—hope that eventually, justice will prevail when it comes to the actions of this President and others in his administration who’ve done his bidding.
Not long ago, I feared Trump would weather the storm of controversy surrounding him. I’m feeling a little better these days. Thank you, Fiona Hill. And thank you, Marie Yovanovitch. We owe you a debt of gratitude.