Feb. 6 (UPI) -- Former Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch said that it's "the American way" to expose wrongdoing by speaking up about it like she and other civil servants did in testimony to Congress last year.
The former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine said it was important to speak out during the House impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump's dealings with Kiev last year, which resulted in acquittal in the Senate Wednesday, despite the administration's efforts to silence witnesses.
"We did this because it is the American way to speak up about wrongdoing," she told the Washington Post in an editorial. "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."
The House probe sought to determine if Trump withheld military aid approved by Congress to Kiev as leverage to persuade Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, for his personal gain. Trump also was accused of using the aid as leverage to get Zelensky to investigate a conspiracy theory debunked by U.S. intelligence that Ukraine was involved in the hacking of the Democratic National Committee server in 2016.
Yovanovitch testified in October in a closed-door deposition during the House impeachment inquiry and again in November publicly during the impeachment hearing that produced articles of impeachment for abuse of power, and obstruction of Congress. She testified that she made enemies in Ukraine by fighting corruption there, but didn't expect U.S. citizens to partner with them.
Trump's lawyer Rudy Guiliani confirmed telling Trump that Yovanovitch was blocking requests to investigate Biden. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said last month he would investigate allegations that private U.S. citizens intent on Yovanovich's removal were surveilling her and possibly threatening harm.
Like other civil servants who testified in the hearings, Yovanovitch talked about how she loved the United States as an immigrant whose family came to the country to have "a better life."
She retired from her 33-year career in the State Department last month after Trump pressured the State Department to dismiss her from the Ukraine post in May despite six former ambassadors raising concern about a smear campaign against her and praising her work.
"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," she said. "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 added that the last year shows us that we need to continue to fight for democracy.
The administration 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 said.
Still, she has hope for the future.
"Like my parents before me, I remain optimistic about our future," she said. "The events of the past year, while deeply disturbing, show that even though our institutions and fellow citizens are being challenged in ways that few of us ever expected, we will endure, we will persist and we will prevail."