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Marie Yovanovitch arrives to testify yesterday. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

An important human dimension gets obscured in the wider impeachment war: Former Ukraine ambassador Marie Yovanovitch is already a three-time victim of the Ukraine scandal and public hearings.

Why it matters: Maybe the only thing House Republicans and Democrats agree on is that Yovanovitch was a widely respected ambassador to Ukraine. Yet, she lost her job, endured a hit job by The Hill newspaper, and had her reputation vilified and sullied publicly by the president of the United States. 

The bigger picture: Yes, she still has a government job. But the toll on her was obvious during her testimony yesterday, which was riveting less for the facts and more because of her reaction to the pummeling from Trump and his allies.

The hearing began at 9:30 a.m. and Trump tweeted his attack on her at 10 a.m., blaming her for the dangerous conditions in Somalia, which has endured 30 years of "turmoil, factional fighting, and anarchy," as the CIA puts it.

  • The staff of House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, who was presiding, distributed printouts of the tweet to Democratic committee members, Axios' Alayna Treene reported from inside the hearing room.
  • Schiff called it "witness intimidation in real time."
  • The tweet was displayed on monitors as Yovanovitch continued testifying:
Photo: Susan Walsh/AP

Republicans said Trump's mid-hearing attack sabotaged their strategy:

  • Republicans recognized going in that she's a highly respected career official, and planned to focus their questions on showing how she had little knowledge of what is being investigated.
  • After the tweet, Republicans went even further out of their way to praise her (even calling her "Your Excellency" at one point) — which just made her abrupt recall to Washington look even more puzzling.

Yovanovitch described what it was like when she learned Trump denigrated her as "bad news" in a conversation with Ukraine's president:

"I was shocked and devastated that I would feature in a phone call between two heads of state in such a manner, where President Trump said that I was bad news to another world leader, and that I would be going through some things."
"So I was — it was a terrible moment. A person who saw me actually reading the transcript said that the color drained from my face. I think I even had a physical reaction."
"I think, you know, even now, words kind of fail me."

Between the lines: The circumstances of Yovanovitch's removal made her a sympathetic witness, even before Trump's tweet, Treene reports.

  • In April, Yovanovitch got a late-night call from the State Department saying she needed to leave for security reasons — on the same night she was honoring her friend, who had died a horrific death after an acid attack for working to root out corruption. The harrowing details highlighted the importance of the ambassador's work in Ukraine.

The bottom line: As the hearing adjourned, Yovanovitch got a standing ovation.

Go deeper:

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Scoop: Trump-backed Perdue says he wouldn’t have certified Georgia 2020 results

Perdue at a December 2020 campaign event in Columbus, Ga. Photo: Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images

Georgia gubernatorial candidate David Perdue wouldn’t have signed the certification of the state’s 2020 election results if he had been governor at the time, the former Senate Republican told Axios.

  • “Not with the information that was available at the time and not with the information that has come out now. They had plenty of time to investigate this. And I wouldn’t have signed it until those things had been investigated and that’s all we were asking for," he said.

Why it matters: There has been no evidence widespread fraud took place in Georgia's elections last year and the November results were counted three times, once by hand.

Beijing Olympics: These countries have announced diplomatic boycotts

Photo: Zhang Qiang/VCG via Getty Images

Several countries, including Canada and Australia, have announced they will join the U.S. in a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics to protest human rights abuses committed by China's government.

Driving the news: Leaders have faced pressure from human rights groups and others to boycott the Games, pointing to the ongoing genocide of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in China's Xinjiang region and other abuses.

Biden directs federal government to become carbon neutral by 2050

President Biden speaking to reporters outside of the White House on Dec. 8.

President Biden signed an executive order Wednesday that requires the federal government achieve multiple goals related to reducing its carbon emissions, including achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.

Why it matters: Meeting the objectives of the order would require a massive investment by the federal government to buy electric vehicles, upgrade buildings and change how it procures electricity.

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