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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 The policy process has been replaced by decisions emanating from the top with little discussion, vacancies go unfilled, and our officers are increasingly wondering whether it is safe to express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

Bernie Madoff dies in prison at 82

Photo: Jin Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Bernie Madoff, a former investor sentenced to 150 years in prison for perpetrating the largest Ponzi scheme in U.S. history, died Wednesday at age 82, AP reports.

The big picture: Madoff pleaded guilty in 2009 to a multibillion-dollar scheme that investigators said began in the 1970s and defrauded as many as 37,000 people in 136 countries — including high-profile victims like Steven Spielberg, former New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon and actor Kevin Bacon, according to CNBC.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
1 hour ago - World

John Kerry and China's long road ahead on climate

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Brian Snyder/AFP via Getty Images

Yes, special climate envoy John Kerry's really in China and no, don't look for a huge breakthrough between the world's two largest carbon-emitting nations.

Driving the news: The State Department yesterday announced Kerry's visit this week, confirming plans that began emerging Saturday.

2 hours ago - Podcasts

Coinbase president Emilie Choi on mainstreaming crypto

Coinbase plans to go public on Wednesday, in a watershed moment for the cryptocurrency industry.

Axios Re:Cap speaks with Coinbase president and COO Emilie Choi about how she thinks about crypto, why Coinbase eschewed a traditional IPO and if we’re ever going to use bitcoin to buy a cup of coffee.

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