- Marie Yovanovitch, the US’s former ambassador to Ukraine, is the third official to testify in the publicimpeachment hearingsinto PresidentDonald Trump.
- Yovanovitch was abruptly recalled from her position in May after what she characterized as a smear campaign against her by Trump and his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.
- She will vividly detail the shadow campaign Giuliani conducted to strong-arm Ukraine into acceding to Trump’s demands for politically motivated investigations.
- Scroll down to watch the hearing.
The public on Friday heard from one of the most significant witnesses to PresidentDonald Trump’sshadow foreign policy campaign in Ukraine.
Marie Yovanovitch served as the US ambassador to Ukraine until she was abruptly recalled in May following what she has characterized as a smear campaign against her based on “false claims by people with clearly questionable motives.”
Yovanovitch’s testimony threw the spotlight on Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer who is accused of engineering her ouster.
Yovanovitch arrived to testify to the House Intelligence Committee as part of its publicimpeachment hearingsbeginning at 9 am ET on Friday.
You can watch the hearing here:
Schiff hits back at Trump for tweeting attacks on Yovanovitch while she testified: ‘Some of us here take witness intimidation very, very seriously’
Trump took to Twitter to lob attacks at Yovanovitch while she testified on Friday.
“Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad,” he tweeted. “She started off in Somalia, how did that go? Then fast forward to Ukraine, where the new Ukrainian President spoke unfavorably about her in my second phone call with him. It is a US President’s absolute right to appoint ambassadors.”
He continued: “…. They call it” serving at the pleasure of the President. “The US now has a very strong and powerful foreign policy, much different than proceeding administrations. It is called, quite simply, America First! With all of that, however, I have done FAR more for Ukraine than [Obama]. “
Schiff weighed in on the president’s tweets in a notable fashion, saying, “Some of us here take witness intimidation very, very seriously.”
Yovanovitch: ‘ I was shocked, absolutely shocked, and devastated ‘by what Trump said in July 25 call with Ukraine’s president
Yovanovitch vividly detailed her reaction when she read a White House summary of the July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky .
During that conversation, Trump repeatedly pressured Zelensky to pursue politically motivated investigations that would benefit his reelection campaign.
Trump also mentioned Yovanovitch and said she was “bad news,” adding that “she’s going to go through some things . “
Testifying on Friday, Yovanovitch said she was” shocked, absolutely shocked, and devastated, frankly, ” by what Trump said about her.
“I was shocked and devastated that I would feature in a phone call between two heads of state in such a manner where President Trump said that I was bad ne ws to another world leader, and that I would be going through some things, “the former ambassador said. “It was a terrible moment.”
She continued, saying that a person who saw her reading the memo of the call said “the color drained from my face. I think I even had a physical reaction. Even now, words fail me.”
Daniel Goldman, a veteran former federal prosecutor who is leading Democrats’ questioning in the impeachment hearings, asked Yovanovitch if she felt threatened by Trump’s words.
“I did,” she replied.
Yovanovitch said she was giving an award to the father of a deceased anticorruption activist when she was abruptly recalled
In a stunning exchange, Yovanovitch testified that she was recalled in May while she was in the middle of hosting an event honoring an anti-corruption activist in Ukraine who died last month.
“She died because she was attacked by acid and died a painful death, “Yovanovitch said of the activist, Kateryna Handziuk. “We thought it was important that justice be done, for her and for others who fight corruption in Ukraine. It’s not a table-top exercise there, lives are in the balance. So we wanted to bring attention to this, and we gave her father that [Woman of Courage] award. “
Yovanovitch went on to say that Carol Perez, the director general of the State Department, called her around 8 pm that day and told her there were issues with her staying on as ambassador. Five hours later, around 1 am, Perez called Yovanovitch again and said “there were great concerns” about her from the White House and that she “needed to come home immediately and get on the next plane.”
Yovanovitch takes aim at State Department leadership for allowing corrupt interests to ‘hijack’ Ukraine policy
Yovanovitch also slammed State Department leadership amid what she described as the “degradation” of
She took aim at the department’s top brass for failing “to push back as foreign and corrupt interests apparently hijacked our Ukraine policy. “
” I remain disappointed that the department’s leadership and others have declined to acknowledge that the attacks against me and others are dangerously wrong, “she said.
Yovanovitch makes a powerful opening statement: ‘How could our system fail like this?’
Yovanovitch began by highlighting her record as a career foreign service officer. She, like other witnesses, emphasized the importance of continued US support for Ukraine as it fends of Russian aggression at its eastern border.
The former US ambassador went on to detail efforts by corrupt Ukrainian interests to engineer her removal.
“What continues to amaze me is that they found Americans willing to partner with them, and working together, they apparently succeeded in orchestrating the removal of a US ambassador,” Yovanovitch said.
“How could our system fail like this? How is it that foreign corrupt interests can manipulate our government?” she added. “Which country interests are served when the very corrupt behavior we have been criticizing is allowed to prevail?”
Yovanovitch said that such conduct “undermines the US, exposes our friends, and widens the playing field for autocrats like [Russian President Vladimir] Putin.”
“Our leadership depends on the power of our example, on the consistency of our purpose,” she continued. “Both have now been opened to questions.”
Ranking member Devin Nunes called Democrats a ‘basement cult,’ accused them of orchestrating a coup against Trump, and pushed conspiracy theories
Nunes made an opening statement that carried many of the same undertones as his performance on Wednesday.
- The California Republican went to bat for the president.
- He accused Democrats of being a “basement cult.”
- Nunes suggested again, as he has many times before, that the real issue is Ukrainian interference in the (election.)
- He also name-dropped Alexandra Chalupa, a DNC worker whom Republicans have painted as the key link between Democr ats and Ukraine.
He repeated a bizarre allegation that Democrats tried to get nude photos of Trump.
There is no evidence that Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff describes Yovanovitch as a straight shooter and principled public servant
Schiff said in his opening statement that Yovanovitch is a “highly regarded career diplomat” who was doing “a remarkable job fighting corruption in Ukraine” before she was recalled earlier this year.
“She is an exemplary officer, who is widely praised and respected by her colleagues. She is known as an anti-corruption champion whose tour in Kyiv was viewed as very successful, “Schiff added.
The California Democrat went on to detail the smear campaign that Giuliani and his Ukrainian associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, carried out against her. Schiff also said Giuliani worked with Yuriy Lutsenko to oust Yovanovitch. Lutsenko is Ukraine’s former prosecutor general whom Yovanovitch and the majority of other western nations have accused of being corrupt.
At the time that the smear campaign was happening, Schiff said, “there was an effort [at the State Department] to push back, to obtain a statement of support from Secretary Pompeo, but those efforts failed, when it became clear that President Trump wanted
Ultimately, Schiff added, Yovanovitch was “smeared and driven from her post” because she refused to help the president strongarm Ukraine into delivering politically motivated investigations that would aid Trump’s reelection effort.
What Yovanovitch told Congress behind closed doors
Yovanovitch testified behind closed doors that Trump and Giuliani wanted her removed since the summer of 2018 because she refused to let Giuliani use the US Embassy in Ukraine in his efforts to obtain political dirt on former Vice PresidentJoe Bidenand his son Hunter Biden.
She said she felt “shocked” and “threatened” by the attacks leveled against her.
Yovanovitch also told Congress a top State Department official confirmed to her that her recall in May came despite her having “done nothing wrong.”
Multiple witnesses, including Bill Taylor, now the US’s chief envoy in Ukraine, and George Kent, a senior State Department official, have corroborated Yovanovitch’s claims .
Yovanovitch raised concerns with senior State Department officials about Giuliani before her ouster, but despite having their own concerns, they didn’t think they could stop him. After Yovanovitch was recalled, the acting assistant secretary of state, Philip T. Reeker, told her Secretary of State Mike Pompeo “was no longer able” to protect her from Trump.
Michael McKinley, who served as a top deputy to Pompeo, quit a few days before his testimony to Congress because of the State Department’s unwillingness to issue a statement supporting Yovanovitch. He also testified that several department employees had their careers derailed for political reasons.
Several government officials, including Taylor and Kent, have already testified to Congress behind closed doors, and their revelations paint a damaging portrait of a concerted effort across the administration to leverage US foreign policy to pressure Ukraine into acceding to Trump’s demands.
Specifically, the president wanted Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to make a public statement commit to investigate the Bidens and a bogus conspiracy theory suggesting it was Ukraine, not Russia, that interfered in the 2016 election.
Officials also outlined the lengths White House officials went to in order to conceal records of a July 25 phone call between Trump and Zelensky.
Witnesses have testified that five men were part of an effort to condition security assistance to Ukraine and a White House meeting on Zelensky publicly announcing the investigations Trump wanted.
The men are Giuliani; the US ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland; the special representative to Ukraine at the time, Kurt Volker; the acting White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney; and the outgoing energy secretary, Rick Perry.
The president’s defenders have said he did nothing wrong and that this is a normal part of how diplomacy and foreign policy are conducted.
But national security veterans, legal scholars, and at times Trump’s own officials who have testified have suggested his actions open him up to a variety of charges including abuse of power, bribery, extortion, misappropriation of taxpayer funds, and soliciting foreign interference in the 2020 election.
Eight more diplomats and national security officials are expected to testify publicly in the next week. Here’s the latestimpeachment hearings schedule
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