“The Trump administration has recalled the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine abruptly and ahead of her scheduled departure after she became a target of political attacks by conservative media outlets and Donald Trump Jr. Democrats see her early departure under pressure as the unfair targeting of a career Foreign Service officer by Team Trump.
According to an internal State Department management notice that I obtained, U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch will leave her post permanently on May 20, with no replacement in place and no nominations to fill that position. “We expect the Department to appoint a long-term Chargé d’Affaires to lead the mission until a new Chief of Mission is nominated and confirmed,” said the notice, which was sent to all mission personnel at the U.S. Embassy in Kiev. Incoming Deputy Chief of Mission Kristina Kvien plans to arrive in Kiev on May 28, and Joseph Pennington will continue to serve as chargé d’affaires and acting deputy chief through the transition period, the notice said.
A State Department spokesman told me, “Yovanovitch is concluding her three-year diplomatic assignment in Kiev in 2019 as planned.” One senior administration official told me that she had been previously scheduled to depart at the beginning of July and that her new May departure as a change in that plan. Another administration official said that Yovanovitch was given a choice whether to stay until July or leave early and she chose to leave early, due to the ongoing political attacks. Yovanovitch did not respond to a direct request for comment.” (Read more: Washington Post, 5/07/2019)