Ousted ambassador details smear campaign to lawmakers

Marie Yovanovitch said that she’d come under attack by President Donald Trump’s allies, who saw her as an obstacle to politically motivated investigations he sought.
8:51 | 11/16/19

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Transcript for Ousted ambassador details smear campaign to lawmakers
It's great to have you with us on a very busy Friday night. Several breaking headlines, but we'll start with the stunning moment on the impeachment the former ambassador to Ukraine was testifying about the smear campaign against her before she was ousted from her job and describing her shock when she learned president trump brought her up with the president of Ukraine. Describing how it was threatening, unsettling. And today the tweet from president trump right in the middle of it all. They read it to her on live TV. She was stunned again. Mary Bruce leads us off tonight from the hill. Reporter: The ousted ambassador to Ukraine, Marie yovanovitch, came to tell her story of being targeted by the president's allies, not knowing that she would soon be targeted again. I come before you as an American citizen who has devoted the majority of my life, 33 years, to service to the country that all of us love. Reporter: As ambassador, she says she came under attack by the president's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, who saw her as an obstacle to the politically motivated investigations trump was hoping for. That she was smeared by the president's son and a host on Fox News. Looking to save her job, she reached out for advice from the president's megadonor and U.S. Ambassador to the eu, Gordon sondland. He suggested that I needed to go big or go home, and he said that the best thing to do would be to, you know, send out a tweet, praise the president, that sort of thing. And what was your reaction to that advice? Well, my reaction was that I'm sure he meant well, but it was not advice that I could really follow. It felt -- it felt partisan. It felt political. Reporter: But then in April, in the middle of the night, a call from an official at the state department. She said that there were great concerns. There were concerns up the street and she said I needed to get on the -- home -- come home immediately. Get on the next plane to the U.S. And I asked her why. And she said she wasn't sure but there were concerns about my security. You said you -- there were concerns up the street. What did you understand that to mean? The white house. How did that make you feel? Terrible, honestly. Reporter: Back in the U.S., she said a top state department official told her she had done nothing wrong. Then in September, yovanovitch stunned as she read the transcript of the president's phone call with the Ukrainian leader. Trump calling her, quote, "Bad news," adding, "She's going to go through some things." I was shocked, absolutely shocked. And devastated frankly. 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. Did you feel threatened? I did. Reporter: Then that stunning moment. As yovanovitch testified about the smear campaign against her, she was being smeared again in real time by the president. Ambassador yovanovitch, as we sit here testifying, the president is attacking you on Twitter. And I'd like to give you a chance to respond. I'll read part of one of his tweets. "Everywhere Marie yovanovitch went turned bad. She started off in Somalia. How did that go?" What would you like to respond to the president's attack that everywhere you went turned bad. Well, I -- I mean, I don't -- I don't think I have such powers, not in Mogadishu, Somalia, and not in other places. I actually think that where I've served over the years, I and others have demonstrably made things better. Reporter: Schiff with a stark warning. Now the president in real time is attacking you. What effect do you think that has on other witnesses' willingness to come forward and expose wrongdoing? Well, it's very intimidating. Well, I want to let you know, ambassador, that some of us here take witness intimidation very, very seriously. Reporter: After the trump tweet, even Republicans applauding the ambassador. You're tough as nails and you're smart as hell, and I will -- you're a great example of what our ambassadors should be like. We are lucky to have you in foreign service, and I again want to thank you for your tremendous public service. Reporter: But Republicans argued that yovanovitch's testimony is not relevant to impeachment. That she returned from her post well before the president withheld nearly $400 million in military assistance to Ukraine, as he was asking them to investigate the Bidens. Do you have any information regarding any criminal activity that the president of the united States has been involved with at all? No. Reporter: Again and again, Republicans said the president has a right to remove any ambassador he wants. Yovanovtich agreed, but added this question. What I'd like to say is, while I obviously don't dispute that the president has the right to withdraw an ambassador at any time, for any reason. But what I do wonder is why it was necessary to smear my reputation. Reporter: And after five hours of testimony, she exits to Mary, there's still more unfolding at this hour. Earlier this week, as we were watching the first day of televised hearings, the top diplomat in Ukraine revealing a staffer overheard president trump on the phone, and that he was checking in on the investigations. That was the word used in testimony this week. Has that been backed up tonight? Reporter: That aide says he was in a restaurant in kiev when he overheard. He said the president was talking so loudly, sondland had to hold the phone away from his ear. Afterwards, he says sondland told him the president only cares about big stuff like the Biden investigation. David? Mary, thank you. President trump was pressed late today about the tweet in the middle of testimony. He was asked, was it witness tampering? Here's what he told Jon Karl. Mr. President, what do you say to Democrats who say you were witness tampering this morning? I'll talk about transparency. I like it here, I'm the most transparent president in history. Tampering is when a guy like shifty Schiff doesn't let us have lawyers, witnesses. I've been watching today -- There was a Republican lawyer there questioning. It's really sad when you see people not allowed to ask questions. Republicans have been asking questions all day. There has never been a disgrace like what's going on right now. So, you know what, I have the right to speak, I have freedom of speech like other people do. Jon, the president says he has the right to speak. We just heard him say that there. And Adam Schiff said today with millions watching they will take witness intimidation very seriously. Even blindsided, some Republicans were blindsided by this tweet. Reporter: Republicans were blindsided and unhappy by it. Liz Cheney said the president was wrong, saying the ambassador is somebody who has been a public servant to the united States for decades, and she doesn't think the president should have said that. One official telling ABC news saying they were flabbergasted by the tweet. Officials insisting this was not witness tampering. Pointing out the president tweeted after the ambassador started her testimony and

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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