Thursday , May 6 2021

Impeachment Hearing Updates: What to Expect From Yovanovitch’s Testimony – The New York Times, The New York Times


The former ambassador to Ukraine will testify publicly about the smear campaign by Rudolph Giuliani that led to her ouster as Democrats continue to build their case for impeaching President Trump.

Michael D. Shear

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Credit …Anna Moneymaker / The New York Times

Marie L. Yovanovitch , the former United States ambassador to Ukraine, will be the sole witness in the second day of impeachment hearings on Friday. She is expected to recount her ouster after a relentless smear campaign spearheaded by Rudolph W. Giuliani, President Trump’s personal lawyer.

In closed-door testimony , Ms. Yovanovitch, who goes by the nickname Masha, and others have described how Mr. Giuliani and Trump allies accused her of undermining the president during the 2016 election, something she calls a scurrilous lie. In Ms. Yovanovitch’s telling, Mr. Giuliani saw her as an impediment to his agenda, which included pushing Ukraine to investigate the son of former Vice President President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

A veteran diplomat with more than 30 years of service, Ms. Yovanovitch was abruptly told in the spring to “get on the next plane” home from Kiev. In her public testimony to the House Intelligence Committee, she is expected to describe the personal trauma she endured as the administration’s traditional diplomatic establishment in Ukraine collided with a rogue foreign policy operation run by Mr. Giuliani.

In her opening statement during closed-door testimony, she said, “Although I understand that I served at the pleasure of the president, I was nevertheless incredulous that the US government chose to remove an ambassador based, as best as I can tell, on unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives. ”

Democrats are betting that Ms. Yovanovitch – an immigrant who served under six presidents from both parties – will offer the public a compelling human story that dramatizes how Mr. Trump ran roughshod over American diplomats in pursuit of his own goals in Ukraine. In the view of Democrats, she is a sympathetic victim of bullying by Mr. Giuliani and the president, whose decision to pull her from Ukraine helped set the stage for the campaign to pressure that country president.

Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California and the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, has described her as “someone who served the country with distinctions for decades” and who witnessed what he called the damage that Mr. Giuliani’s efforts were having on America’s foreign policy. In his remarks on Wednesday, he said that after the ouster of Ms. Yovanovitch, “the stage was set” for the rogue diplomatic efforts that Mr. Giuliani led.

During her closed-door testimony,Ms. Yovanovitchdisplayed flashes of emotion, her voice trailing off as she described her disappointment when she realized her ambassadorship had been terminated. “Do you want to take a minute?” Daniel Goldman, the chief Democratic lawyer, asked her. “Yeah, just a minute,” she said, according to the transcript of her testimony.

Democrats are hoping she will replay that kind of reaction, and more, during Friday’s public hearing – this time in front of video cameras capturing the moments on television.

Republicans know they have to be careful when they question Ms. Yovanovitch, making sure they don’t look as if they are bullying a victim in the impeachment story. One Republican strategist compared their preparations for dealing with Ms. Yovanovitch to the way senators prepared for the testimony of Christine Blasey Ford, the professor who accused Justice Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were teenagers.

But Republicans have already tipped their hand about how they intend to confrontMs. Yovanovitch. They plan to argue that she was terminated in late April, long before the events at the center of the impeachment inquiry: the July 25 telephone between Mr. Trump and President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, and the decision to withhold security aid unless Mr. Zelensky announced investigations into the president’s political rivals.

“She was not there during the relevant time that this whole impeachment inquiry is to address,” Representative Mark Meadows, Republican of North Carolina, said Thursday. “She was gone.”

Republicans also plan to make the point that ambassadors like Ms. Yovanovitch serve at the pleasure of the president, and can be fired any time the president decides he wants someone else to represent him. So her ouster, they will say, was perfectly appropriate.

The most important element of Ms. Yovanovitch’s testimony may be about the effect of Mr. Giuliani’s actions on the State Department. In her closed-door interview, she described in detail how his efforts to smear her undermined the work of other career diplomats as they pursued what they believed was the administration’s foreign policy.

“Bad actors” in Ukraine and elsewhere will “see how easy it is to use fiction and innuendo to manipulate our system,” she warned in that session. “The only interests that will be served are those of our strategic adversaries, like Russia.”

Among the bad actors that Ms. Yovanovitch identified weretwo American businessmen, Lev Parnas, who was born in Ukraine and Igor Fruman, who was born in Belarus. They worked with Mr. Giuliani to get rid of Ms. Yovanovitch and have since beenindicted in a complex schemeto violate campaign finance laws.

Yovanovitch is likely to focus on Mr. Yovanovitch Giuliani himself. He criticized her repeatedly in public and private, suggesting she was disloyal to Mr. Trump and prompting venomous criticism from others, including Donald Trump Jr., who tweeted a link to an item that described Ms. Yovanovitch as “an anti-Trump, Obama flunkey.” She told lawmakers privately that “the harm will come not just through the inevitable and continuing resignation and loss of many of this nation’s most loyal and talented public servants.”

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Admit It: You Don’t Know How Impeachment Works. We Can Help.

Explosive testimony. News media frenzies. A trial in the Senate. Here is how impeachment works – and how it has played out in the past.

“Impeachment by its nature, it’s a political process.” “What people think is going to happen can turn out to be very different from what happens.” “Because it has to do with elected officials holding another elected official to account for their conduct. ”When the framers of the Constitution created a process to remove a president from office, they were well … kind of vague. So to understand how it’s going to play out, the past is really our best guide. “I think we’re just all in for a really crazy ride.” Collectively, these New York Times reporters have covered U.S. politics for over 150 years. “I’m also a drummer in a band, so …” They’ve reported on past impeachment inquiries. “Yea, I’m lost in Senate wonderland.” And they say that the three we’ve had so far have been full of twists and turns. The President of the United States is not guilty as charged. In short, expect the unexpected. First, the process. Impeachment is technically only the initial stage. “Common misconceptions about impeachment are that impeachment by itself means removal from office. It doesn’t. The impeachment part of the process is only the indictment that sets up a trial. ”The Constitution describes offenses that are grounds for removing the president from office as bribery, treason and ——“ They say high crimes and misdemeanors, which, really, is in the eye of the beholder. ”“ The framers didn’t give us a guidebook to it. They simply said, that the House had the responsibility for impeachment and the Senate had the responsibility for the trial. ”One of the things missing from the Constitution? How an impeachment inquiry should start. And that has generally been a source of drama. Basically, anything goes. “In fact, in the Andrew Johnson case they voted to impeach him without even having drafted the articles of impeachment.” For Richard Nixon, his case started with several investigations that led to public hearings. That part of the process went on for two years and yielded revelation after revelation connecting Nixon to a politically-motivated burglary at D.N.C. headquarters —— “… located in the Watergate office building.” —— and its subsequent cover up. “Mr. Butterfield, are you aware of the installation of any listening devices in the Oval Office of the president? ”“ “I was aware of listening devices. Yes, sir. ”“ This was a shocker. Everybody in the White House recognized how damaging this could be. ”As the house drafted articles of impeachment, Nixon lost the support of his party. “O.K., I shall resign the presidency effective at noon tomorrow.” “I was asked to write the farewell piece that ran the morning after Nixon resigned. And this is what I wrote: The central question is how a man who won so much could have lost so much. ”So for Nixon, it more or less ended after the investigations. But for Bill Clinton, that phase was just the beginning. “This is the information.” An independent counsel’s investigation into his business dealings unexpectedly turned into a very public inquiry about his personal life. “The idea that a President of the United States was having an affair with a White House intern and then a federal prosecutor was looking at that, it was just extraordinary.” That investigation led to public hearings in the House Judiciary Committee. “When the Starr Report was being delivered to Congress, It was a little bit like the O.J. chase only a political one. There were two black cars. They were being filmed live on CNN. They were heading towards the capitol. We were watching it and a little bit agog. ”Public opinion is key. And the media plays a huge part in the process. This was definitely true for Clinton. “You know it was just a crazy time. We worked in the Senate press gallery. ”“ “All your colleagues are kind of piled on top of each other.” “We had crummy computers. The fax machine would always break. The printer would always break. ”After committee hearings, the House brought formal impeachment charges. “It was very tense. I thought that the Saturday of the impeachment vote in the House, was one of the most tense days I’d experienced in Washington. ”And it turned out, also, full of surprises. “The day of impeachment arrived. Everyone’s making very impassioned speeches about whether Bill Clinton should or should not be impeached and Livingston rises to give an argument for the House Republicans. He started to talk about how Clinton could resign. ”“ You, sir, may resign your post. ”“ And all of a sudden people start booing and saying ‘resign, resign’! ”“ So I must set the example. ”“ He announced he was resigning because he had had extramarital affairs and challenged President Clinton to do the only honorable thing, in his view —— ”“ “I hope President Clinton will follow.” ”—— to resign as well, so there was all this drama unfolding even in the midst of impeachment. ”Then it went to the Senate for trial. The Constitution gets a little more specific about this part. “The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is supposed to preside over that trial.” “Rehnquist, he showed up in this robe he had made for himself, had gold stripes on the sleeves because he liked Gilbert and Sullivan.” “The Senate is the actual jury. ”“ You will do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws. So help you, God. ”“ This is a copy of the rules of the Senate for handling impeachment. They’re actually very specific. ”“ Meet six days a week. ”“ Convene at noon. The senators have to sit at their desks and remain quiet in their role as jurors. And not talk, which trust me is going to be a problem for some of the senators who are used to talking all the time. ”It’s just like a courtroom trial. There are prosecutors who present the case against the president. “That was perjury.” Only, they’re members of the House and they’re called managers. Then the senators, or the jurors, vote. And things are still, unpredictable. “The options are guilty or not guilty. But there was one senator —— ”“ “Arlen Specter a medium Republican from Pennsylvania.” “Under Scottish law, there are three possible verdicts: guilty, not guilty and, not proved.” ”——Which is not a thing.” “ And everybody just looks, you know, how do you even record that vote? ”In the end, there were not enough votes to oust Clinton. “What’s amazing about this whole thing to me wasn’t so much the constitutional process. It was that it felt to me like the beginning of really intense partisanship, the weaponization of partisanship. ”And here’s the thing, an impeachment charge has never gotten the two-thirds majority it needs in the Senate to actually oust a president from office. “So you could end up having a situation where the president is impeached, acquitted and runs for re-election and wins reelection.” And that would be a first. “This is my ticket to the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton. I don’t think you’ll find these on StubHub. ”

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Explosive testimony. News media frenzies. A trial in the Senate. Here is how impeachment works – and how it has played out in the past.CreditCredit …Photo illustration by Aaron Byrd

Ms. Yovanovitch will make one critical connection directly to Mr. Trump: the president’s own words about her during the July 25 call with Mr. Zelensky.

During that conversation, Mr. Trump referred to Ms. Trump Yovanovitch by saying that she was “bad news” and later reassured Zelensky that “she’s going to go through some things. I will have Mr. Giuliani give you a call. ”Ms. Giuliani Yovanovitch has said that she felt “threatened” by the president’s words, and still fears retaliation.

In her previous testimony, Ms. Yovanovitch described herself as “shocked” by the president’s comments about her, saying: “I was very concerned. I still am. ”Democrats hope her public testimony about the president’s comments will counter a key Republican talking point, that many of the witnesses have only secondhand knowledge about what the president said or did. In the case of Ms. Yovanovitch, the president’s comments about her come directly from his own words on the call.

A new figure will enter the impeachment drama on Friday afternoon when David Holmes , the political counselor at the American Embassy in Ukraine, is scheduled to testify privately in the inquiry. Investigators want to ask him about a phone call that he overheard in July between Mr. Trump and Gordon D. Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union, who was part of a group of Trump loyalists engaged in diplomacy with Ukraine.

William B. Taylor Jr., the top diplomat in Ukraine and Mr. Holmes’s boss, told lawmakers at Wednesday’s public hearing that he had recently learned that one of his aides overheard the president asking Mr. Sondland about “the investigations,” an apparent reference to Mr. Sondland Trump’s desire for investigations of his political rivals. Mr. Taylor testified that the aide – who investigators have since learned was Mr. Holmes – then heard Mr. Holmes Sondland respond that the “Ukrainians were ready to move forward.”

After the call ended, Mr. Sondland Holmes asked Mr. Holmes Sondland what the president thought about Ukraine, and the ambassador responded that, “President Trump cares more about the investigations of Biden,” according to Mr. Taylor. Republicans have argued that much of the testimony from Mr. Taylor and others has been secondhand. Democratic lawmakers are eager to hear Mr. Holmes, a Foreign Service officer for 17 years, describe the call himself.

  • Trump repeatedly pressured Zelensky to investigate people and issues of political concern to Mr. Trump, including Mr. Biden.Here’s a timeline of events since January.

  • A CIA officer who was once detailed to the White House filed a whistle-blower complaint on Mr. Trump’s interactions with Mr. Trump’s Zelensky.Read the complaint.

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Who Are the Main Characters in the Whistle-Blower’s Complaint?

President Trump’s personal lawyer. The prosecutor general of Ukraine. Joe Biden’s son. These are just some of the names mentioned in the whistle-blower’s complaint. What were their roles? We break it down.

Congressman: “Sir, let me repeat my question: Did you ever speak to the president about this complaint?” Congress is investigating allegations that President Trump pushed a foreign government to dig up dirt on his Democratic rivals. “It’s just a Democrat witch hunt. Here we go again. ”At the heart of an impeachment inquiry is a nine-page whistle-blower complaint that names over two dozen people. Not counting the president himself, these are the people that appear the most: First, Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph Giuliani. According to documents and interviews, Giuliani has been involved in shadowy diplomacy on behalf of the president’s interests. He encouraged Ukrainian officials to investigate the Biden family’s activities in the country, plus other avenues that could benefit Trump like whether the Ukrainians intentionally helped the Democrats during the 2016 election. It was an agenda he also pushed on TV. “So you did ask Ukraine to look into Joe Biden.” “Of course I did!” A person Giuliani worked with, Yuriy Lutsenko, Ukraine’s former prosecutor general. He pushed for investigations that would also benefit Giuliani and Trump. Lutsenko also discussed conspiracy theories about the Bidens in the U.S. media. But he later walked back his allegations, saying there was no evidence of wrongdoing by the Bidens. This is where Hunter Biden comes in, the former vice president’s son. He served on the board of a Ukrainian energy company run by this guy, who’s had some issues with the law. While Biden was in office, he along with others, called for the dismissal of Lutsenko’s predecessor, a prosecutor named Viktor Shokin, whose office was overseeing investigations into the company that Hunter Biden was involved with. Shokin was later voted out by the Ukrainian government. Lutsenko replaced him, but was widely criticized for corruption himself. When a new president took office in May, Volodymyr Zelensky, Zelensky said that he’d replace Lutsenko. Giuliani and Trump? Not happy. They viewed Lutsenko as their ally. During a July 25 call between Trump and the new Ukrainian president, Trump defended him, saying, “I heard you had a prosecutor who is very good and he was shut down and that’s really unfair. ”In that phone call, Trump also allegedly asked his counterpart to continue the investigation into Joe Biden, who is his main rival in the 2020 election. Zelensky has publicly denied feeling pressured by Trump. “In other words, no pressure.” And then finally, Attorney General William Barr, who also came up in the July 25 call. In the reconstructed transcript, Trump repeatedly suggested that Zelensky’s administration could work with Barr and Giuliani to investigate the Bidens and other matters of political interest to Trump. Since the whistle-blower complaint was made public, Democrats have criticized Barr for dismissing allegations that Trump had violated campaign finance laws during his call with Zelensky and not passing along the complaint to Congress. House Democrats have now subpoenaed several people mentioned in the complaint, as an impeachment inquiry into the president’s conduct continues.

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President Trump’s personal lawyer. The prosecutor general of Ukraine. Joe Biden’s son. These are just some of the names mentioned in the whistle-blower’s complaint. What were their roles? We break it down.CreditCredit …Illustration by The New York Times

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