As for how outlandish it is to have an irregular channel engage the Ukrainians, they would see a power play:
Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, speaking for his client in blunt, public terms; U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, who can influence E.U. funding and accession decisions (European countries have given more aid to Ukraine than the United States has); special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker, whose formal role was to help defuse the Russian-Ukraine conflict, precisely why U.S. military aid is vital; and Energy Secretary Rick Perry, who pushed a liquefied natural gas deal and recommended two Texas pay-for-play cronies for the board of Ukraine’s largest energy company, a type of corruption that Ukraine is trying to fight.
It would be incredible for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, a novice just barely in office, to stand up to Mr. Trump not just privately but especially in public when Ukraine is dependent on the United States for political, military and moral support. A White House visit for Mr. Zelensky has yet to materialize; aid resumed only after the whistleblower account and congressional inquiry. No spin can obscure those objective, empirical facts.
Alexander Karagiannis, Falls Church
The president claimed in a tweet that “Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad.”
In early 2006, a terrorist bomb killed David Foy as he arrived for work at the U.S. Consulate in Karachi, Pakistan. Foy was a 20-year Navy veteran who joined the Foreign Service and was posted to the U.S. Embassy in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, from 2003 to 2005.
I had served with Foy in Bishkek and was still working there when news of the attack reached us. The embassy in Bishkek was a small post at the time, with fewer than 30 Americans. It was like losing a brother.
Touched by the hand of fate, Foy’s remains were to transit through Manas Air Base, an hour’s drive outside of Bishkek. A few of us made the ride to Manas around midnight to pay our respects. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch had just arrived in Kyrgyzstan the month before and never knew Foy, so we were surprised and deeply touched to see her at Manas when we arrived. Together we stood on the dark, frigid tarmac as the honor guard carried Foy’s flag-draped remains from the military transport. Ms. Yovanovitch accomplished much to make the world a better place, including fighting to keep Manas open when the Russians pressured the Kyrgyz to close it, but it was this one small, kind gesture that I’ll most remember.
I agreed with every word of the Nov. 16 editorial “How our system failed” — except for the word “humiliation” applied to former U.S. ambassador Marie Yovanovitch. It should have been “attempted humiliation.” In my eyes, Ms. Yovanovitch is an inspiring example and is anything but humiliated.
I’m a Vietnam-era veteran and lifelong Republican who has voted for only one Democratic presidential candidate, Jimmy Carter, basically because I am from Georgia. President Trump has utterly destroyed long-standing diplomatic relationships around the world, and his personal attacks on Marie Yovanovitch are reprehensible, as are his personal attacks on other outstanding Americans such as Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman.
Mr. Trump has undermined American democracy and created an atmosphere of divisiveness throughout the country that will have lasting consequences.
Frank Maddox, Falls Church
We have to keep our eye on the ball. The discussions over definitions of “bribery” or hearsay are just distractions from the main issue: Is it proper for a president to ask (pressure) a foreign government to intervene in our elections? If President Trump’s behavior is acceptable, what about future presidents trying to enlist foreign states in our elections? What about governors or senators asking foreign governments for help? Can former vice president Joe Biden, a candidate for the Democratic nomination for president, ask foreign governments to help him against Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), also a candidate for their party’s nomination?
That’s the issue, and all the static about “quids” and hearsay is just a distraction. What is interesting is that no one, no member of the House or senator or White House official, has said asking for such foreign interference is fine, legal and right.
Peter Schoettle, Rockville
I’m sure Fred Hiatt was right when he wrote in his Nov. 18 op-ed, “Making the world safe for dictatorship,” that Russian President Vladimir Putin does not like having a vibrant democracy right on his border, but I don’t believe that’s why Mr. Putin invaded Ukraine. I’m pretty sure it was the risk of losing land access to the massive Russian naval base on the Crimean Peninsula that motivated him. It has historically been the only naval base that doesn’t get icebound every winter the way Russia’s northern bases do. What country would ever passively give up such a strategic asset? Likewise, in Syria, Russia has a naval base in that country on the Mediterranean Sea that gives Mr. Putin a really strong reason to keep Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in power.