WASHINGTON — Before President Trump fired her as his ambassador to Ukraine, Marie L. Yovanovitch was an anonymous career diplomat who served in the kind of unglamorous posts — Kyrgyzstan, Armenia and eventually Ukraine — typically reserved for civil servants because political donors and friends of the president don’t covet them.
Now Ms. Yovanovitch, known as Masha to her friends and colleagues, is a hashtag on Twitter (#GoMasha) and a reluctant public figure, vilified on the right and lionized on the left. On Friday she will tell her story publicly for the first time, recounting how she became the target of a smear campaign by Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani and the right-wing media.
Her testimony, as the latest witness to appear in the growing impeachment inquiry into Mr. Trump, will spotlight the July 25 telephone conversation that has set off a political crisis for the president, in which the president told Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine, that Ms. Yovanovitch was “bad news.”
“She’s going to go through some things,” the president said.
Ms. Yovanovitch, who had been outspoken about fighting corruption in Ukraine, had already been removed by the time of that call; she learned of it after the president made a reconstructed transcript public as part of the impeachment inquiry. During a private deposition, Ms. Yovanovitch told investigators that she felt “threatened” by Mr. Trump’s remark, and that she still fears retaliation.
Her dismissal followed a campaign of attacks against her, led by Mr. Giuliani, the president’s lawyer, who was circumventing State Department diplomats in a shadowy effort to get Mr. Zelensky to investigate Mr. Trump’s political rivals.
Mr. Giuliani branded her a “stooge” and Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son, called her “a joker.” Fox News personalities jumped in, accusing her of being disloyal to the president by criticizing him in private conversations.
Among their complaints: A former Ukrainian prosecutor claimed in an interview with The New York Times that Ms. Yovanovitch had blocked his team from getting visas to the United States to deliver damaging information about Mr. Biden and his son Hunter to the F.B.I.
In congressional testimony, Ms. Yovanovitch said her father fled the Soviet Union and then the Nazis; her mother grew up “stateless” in Germany. She said that background gave her a special empathy for those who had endured poverty, war and displacement.
A native of Canada who moved to Connecticut at age 3 and became an American citizen at 18, Ms. Yovanovitch has spent 33 years with the State Department and is known for her professionalism.
She grew up speaking Russian, graduated from Princeton and joined the State Department six years later. She has worked for presidents of both parties: President George W. Bush appointed her ambassador to Kyrgyzstan, then to Armenia. President Barack Obama named her ambassador to Ukraine in 2016.
There, she pushed for a variety of reforms, including ending the immunity enjoyed by legislators accused of crimes. After her ouster, she returned to Washington, and is now a senior State Department fellow at Georgetown University’s Institute for the Study of Diplomacy.
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