GOP

House Impeachment Inquiry Day Two: Marie Yovanovitch

Photo Credit: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

QUICK NOTE: Hello from the future! It has taken me a while to actually get around to writing these posts (for reasons we’ll talk about in a mental health post soon). When I finally sat down to start writing about these hearings, trying to write about them in the past tense just felt weird. So, I’m going to write what I would have written had I been able to write up each hearing on the day it happened and then backdate them here on the blog. I realize that I probably could have just done that anyway without telling you but that felt like a shady thing to do. Just thought you should know! Onward!

Today the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (House Intel Committee) listened to testimony from Former Ambassador to the Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch. Why is Fmr Ambassador Yovanovitch important? 

The short version? Trump fired her because he wanted to do some illegal sh*t and she pushed back. Then Trump and his henchman Rudy Giuliani did everything they could to trash the Ambassador’s reputation and ruin the rest of her life. (Spoiler Alert: it didn’t work)

Marie Yovanovitch spent 33 years as a member of the US Foreign Service. That’s more than half her life. She has served all over the world and for two years was the Deputy Director of the Russian Desk at the State Department. She was given her first Ambassadorship by George W Bush when he appointed her the US Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan in 2005. In 2008 she was appointed the US Ambassador to Armenia. In 2016 President Obama appointed her the US Ambassador to Ukraine. She has a degree in Russian Studies from Princeton, studied at Moscow’s Pushkin Institute and has a Master of Science from the National Defense University’s National War College. 

That means? She knows what the frak she’s talking about. And, like Taylor and Kent before her, she’s neither a Trump sycophant nor a Never-Trumper (all affirmed this under oath). 

Why does Fmr Ambassador Yovanovitch’s testimony matter? Because Trump is massively afraid of her.

As she stated multiple times during her testimony, Trump was allowed to fire her at any time and for any reason he wanted. And while she certainly didn’t deserve to be fired (she was doing an amazing job), his recalling her was totally legal. 

What’s not cool is the way that Trump, Giuliani, and their marauding band of buffoons went to town on her reputation and livelihood. These jerks did everything they could to trash her reputation, to vilify her and, essentially to ruin her life. They sicced their frothing base on her and, this is not hyperbole, she is lucky to be alive.  

Why? Why not just fire her and move on? Why do everything possible to make sure her life was borked? Because she is a strong woman who had the audacity to stand up to a man in power. And we all know how much Trump hates it when the ladies try to think for themselves. And because he’s intimidated by smart, funny, accomplished women who are, by leaps and bounds, better people than he could ever dream of being.

One of the things that struck me during this hearing was how often the GOP members of the committee tried to brush off Trump’s threats and disparagements—even as he tweeted them during the damn hearing—because after all, she landed a fellowship at a prestigious University, right? She’s not going to be hurting financially or anything. It’s not like she’s homeless now, after all. 

This? Is like saying: Sure, I burned down your house but look at the check the insurance company gave you! That’ll pay for a sweet-ass minivan, for sure! We’re good, right? 

No, bros. You most definitely are not good.

Here’s the tweet thread:

Chelsea Manning Will Be Set Free

One of the few things that we can be sure about in today’s United States is that if President Obama does something, the Republicans are going to hate it. It won’t matter what it is, they will hate it because he is the one that did it. Forever and ever Amenalenadingdong.

Today the big news out of the White House is President Obama commuting the rest of Chelsea Manning’s prison sentence. Predictably, the GOP are screaming themselves silly over it.

Chelsea Manning, for those of you who don’t remember, is the soldier who leaked a crap ton of classified and sensitive diplomatic documents to WikiLeaks in 2010. She was convicted of Espionage in 2013 and sentenced to 35 years in prison. Many believe that Chelsea is a hero to be admired and even emulated. Others insist she is a traitor of the worst kind. I? I…don’t know.

I have mixed feelings about Chelsea Manning. On the one hand, I do believe that her actions put many in harm’s way. There is no doubt, though, that her actions have also likely saved many more. I know that I think far higher of her than I do of Edward Snowden or Julian Assange.

However I feel about Chelsea Manning and what she did, I do know that I am glad that President Obama commuted the rest of her sentence (provided Our Lord and Miser Fake n’ Bake doesn’t try to revoke it in a few days). I am glad she is going free. And though this will likely make many of you angry, I am also glad she was not fully pardoned.

That probably sounds harsh, but look: whether or not we like them or agree with them we are governed by a set of laws. And the military’s code of law is incredibly strict for a reason. Chelsea Manning knew what those laws were and she broke them. Was she brave to do so? Absolutely. Was what she did necessary for the protection of the greater good? Probably. Was her heart in the right place? Totes.

It’s easy to sit here in our bubbles and say that Chelsea should have been offered the same compassion and understanding that is offered to other people who break the law and aren’t sent to prison because their intentions were to serve the greater good, and to wax poetic about Kohlberg and the Heinz Dilemma.

A) Chelsea Manning was not tried in civilian court where the Heinz Dilemma could come into play.

B) Even if she was, war is not as simple as a broken window.

In moral/ethical cases the question is not only whether the ends justified the means but whether the ends outweigh the means. There is no doubt that a life is far more valuable than a window, as a window is easily replaceable and a human life is not.

War is not a broken window pane that can easily be replaced. Blasting out information to millions of people who don’t have the necessary qualifications or background to understand it properly is irresponsible and dangerous. In saving many lives Chelsea also put many lives at risk and likely ended quite a few, too. She knew that lives could be lost because of her actions. She took those actions anyway. She deserved to face some sort of consequence.

I do not think, however, that she deserved to face the consequence she was served. 35 years in a men’s prison because of a system that hasn’t yet caught up to science could be argued as extreme (and likely even extremely prejudiced). Forcing her to stay in that prison even after multiple suicide attempts? I’m pretty sure that’s considered cruel and unusual. And I’m glad she will soon be free.

Commuting the sentence might not seem like much to those who believe she deserves a full pardon. But hopefully if that’s how you feel you can take some comfort in knowing just how badly it pissed off the other side. Remember: they didn’t get their way, either. Personally I’m a fan of the solution that found the middle ground between the two extremes–and does so with respect to the law, not just how something feels.

I’m really going to miss having a President who cares about how all this stuff works.