Marie Yovanovitch served as a member of the United States Foreign Service for 34 years.
Her first ambassadorship was to Kyrgyzstan at the behest of Republican President George W. Bush followed by another appointment by Bush as ambassador to Armenia.
Considered a well respected expert and diplomat, Yovanovitch was subsequently appointed ambassador to Ukraine by President Barack Obama. However Yovanovitch's career took a turn under the Trump administration.
Recalled from Ukraine by President Donald Trump, Yovanovitch was reassigned to be the Senior State Department Fellow at Georgetown University's Institute for the Study of Diplomacy. She then retired from federal service on January 31, 2020.
Now that Yovanovitch is a private citizen, she is speaking out about the administration she served with dignity and integrity while facing threats and personal attacks.
"These are turbulent times. But we will persist and prevail."
"After nearly 34 years working for the State Department, I said goodbye to a career that I loved. It is a strange feeling to transition from decades of communicating in the careful words of a diplomat to a person free to speak exclusively for myself."
"What I'd like to share with you is an answer to a question so many have asked me: What do the events of the past year mean for our country's future?"
She then gave some insight into the minds of civil servants—those who dedicate their lives to country and the US Constitution over any individual politician.
"When civil servants in the current administration saw senior officials taking actions they considered deeply wrong in regard to the nation of Ukraine, they refused to take part. When Congress asked us to testify about those activities, my colleagues and I did not hesitate, even in the face of administration efforts to silence us."
"We did this because it is the American way to speak up about wrongdoing."
As a member of the foreign service for over three decades, Yovanovitch is familiar with authoritarian regimes.
"I have seen dictatorships around the world, where blind obedience is the norm and truth-tellers are threatened with punishment or death. We must not allow the United States to become a country where standing up to our government is a dangerous act."
"It has been shocking to experience the storm of criticism, lies and malicious conspiracies that have preceded and followed my public testimony, but I have no regrets. I did — we did — what our conscience called us to do. We did what the gift of U.S. citizenship requires us to do."
Yovanovitch then offered a warning and a call to action.
"Unfortunately, the last year has shown that we need to fight for our democracy. 'Freedom is not free' is a pithy phrase that usually refers to the sacrifices of our military against external threats."
"It turns out that same slogan can be applied to challenges which are closer to home. We need to stand up for our values, defend our institutions, participate in civil society and support a free press."
"Every citizen doesn't need to do everything, but each one of us can do one thing."
"I had always thought that our institutions would forever protect us against individual transgressors. But it turns out that our institutions need us as much as we need them; they need the American people to protect them or they will be hollowed out over time, unable to serve and protect our country."
She then defended her colleagues of integrity and honesty who find themselves under attack from the Trump administration every day.
"The State Department is filled with individuals of integrity and professionalism. They advance U.S. interests every day—whether they are repatriating Americans vulnerable to a pandemic, reporting on civil unrest, negotiating military basing rights or helping a U.S. company navigate a foreign country."
Yovanovitch then made the issues clear...
"But our public servants need responsible and ethical political leadership."
...and laid responsibility at the feet of the Trump administration.
"This administration, through acts of omission and commission, has undermined our democratic institutions, making the public question the truth and leaving public servants without the support and example of ethical behavior that they need to do their jobs and advance U.S. interests."
She concluded with a message of hope for the future.
"These are turbulent times, perhaps the most challenging that I have witnessed."
"Like my parents before me, I remain optimistic about our future. The events of the past year, while deeply disturbing, show that even though our institutions and our fellow citizens are being challenged in ways that few of us ever expected, we will endure, we will persist and we will prevail."
People appreciated her words and thanked her.
Yovanovitch did not specify what she plans next, but she retires with the thanks of a grateful nation—regardless of the views of the Trump administration.