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Former U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch speaks during a ceremony awarding her the Trainor Award for excellence in the conduct of diplomacy at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Marie Yovanovitch, the retired former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, used an award acceptance speech at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., Wednesday to criticize the Trump administration.

"Right now, the State Department is in trouble. Senior leaders lack policy vision, moral clarity, leadership. The policy process has been replaced by decisions emanating from the top with little discussion, vacancies go unfilled, and our officers are increasingly wondering whether it is safe to express concerns about policies even behind closed doors."

Why it matters: Yovanovitch's remarks at Georgetown’s Institute for the Study of Diplomacy as she picked up a Trainor Award for "excellence in the conduct of diplomacy" mark her first public since leaving the diplomatic service.

What they're saying: In her speech, she said of the Trump administration's foreign policy, "To be blunt, an amoral, keep 'em guessing foreign policy that substitutes threats, fear and confusion for trust, cannot work over the long haul."

  • She also said the State Department is being "hollowed out" and that the "truth matters." "We need to re-empower our diplomats to do their job," she added. "We can't be afraid to share our expertise or challenge false assumptions."
  • Axios has contacted the State Department for comment. The president said during his Twitter criticisms of Yovanovitch that the "U.S. now has a very strong and powerful foreign policy, much different than proceeding administrations."

The big picture: Yovanovitch's speech comes after she said in a Washington Post op-ed last Thursday, a day after the Senate voted to acquit Trump in his impeachment trial, that his administration has "undermined our democratic institutions."

Go deeper: Highlights from Marie Yovanovitch's testimony at Trump impeachment hearing

Go deeper

2 hours ago - World

U.S: Nord Stream 2 "will not move forward" if Russia invades Ukraine

U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price during a press briefing at the State Department in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday. Photo: Kevin Lamarque/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. will make sure the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project between Russia and Germany won't go ahead if Russian troops invade Ukraine, State Department spokesperson Ned Price told NPR on Wednesday.

Why it matters: Germany's ambassador to the U.S. appeared to support Price's strong rhetoric on the strategically significant pipeline that would circumvent Ukrainian transit infrastructure and deliver Russian gas directly to Germany, eliminating one of the last deterrents Ukraine has against an invasion, per Axios' Zachary Basu.

Scoop: Stephanie Ruhle to replace Brian Williams on MSNBC

Photo: Nathan Congleton/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images

MSNBC will soon announce plans to move morning anchor Stephanie Ruhle to the 11 pm ET hour that Brian Williams turned into an elite destination, two sources familiar with the move tell Axios.

Details: The 9 am ET hour, currently hosted by Ruhle, will become part of MSNBC's flagship morning show, "Morning Joe," which currently runs from 6 am to 9 am ET.

Oath Keepers leader denied bail on Capitol riot sedition charge

Oath Keepers co-founder Elmer Stewart Rhodes. Photo: Susan Walsh/AP

A federal judge ordered Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes to remain jailed Wednesday until trial on charges stemming from the Capitol riot.

Why it matters: The judge said the most prominent far-right figure charged in the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection had access to weapons and his alleged "continued advocacy for violence against the federal government" gave credence to prosecutors' view that, if released, Rhodes could endanger others.

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