Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch gave public testimony Friday regarding the circumstances of her abrupt ouster from her post as part of the House impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.
Catch up quickly:
5 things we learned from Yovanovitch's public testimony
- Including stirring testimony, a GOP strategy and how Russia benefited ...
Trump defends attacking Yovanovitch after Dems accuse him of 'witness intimidation'
- “I have the right to speak. I have the freedom of speech just as other people do,” Trump told reporters.
Analysis: The devastating day Trump's presidency came into sharp focus
- Also: A fate worse than firing — humiliation. "All we have is our reputations," Yovanovitch said.
Yovanovitch says Trump admin kneecapped her diplomatic efforts
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Here's what Yovanovitch said during her October deposition
Key details from Yovanovitch's Oct. 11 deposition closed-door testimony:
- Said she was a victim of false claims promoted by right-wing media outlets that she'd been badmouthing the president and had presented Ukrainian officials with a "do not prosecute" list.
- When she asked him for advice on how to deal with the campaign against her, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, told her she should tweet out support or praise for Trump if she wanted to save her job. "He said, 'You know, you need to go big or go home,'" Yovanovitch said, adding that she declined to take his suggestion because it would not have been appropriate for an ambassador.
- A top State Department official, John Sullivan, told her she was being removed on the president's orders because he'd lost confidence in her, even though she had "done nothing wrong." "He added that there had been a concerted campaign against me, and that the department had been under pressure from the president to remove me since the summer of 2018," Yovanovitch said.
- She was "surprised and dismayed" when she found out the contents of the president's July 25 call with his Kyiv counterpart.
How to watch the impeachment hearing: Day 2 schedule, witnesses and more
The first public presidential impeachment hearings in over 20 years will continue on Friday with Yovanovich's testimony.
The hearing is slated to start at 9 a.m. ET Friday, an hour earlier than the first hearing on Wednesday, which featured testimony from diplomats Bill Taylor and George Kent. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., will make an opening statement, followed by an opening statement by the ranking member on the committee, Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., and then a statement from the witness.
Who is Marie Yovanovitch?
Here's what you need to know about the longtime diplomat:
- She was born in Canada after her parents fled Nazi and communist regimes, and moved to Connecticut when she was 3 years old.
- Her nickname is Masha.
- She's a graduate of Princeton, where she studied the former Soviet Union.
- Yovanovitch has been a foreign service officer for 33 years, and served in six presidential administrations — four Republican and two Democrat.
- She's been appointed ambassador three times — twice by Republican George W. Bush and once by Democrat Barack Obama. She was ambassador to Kyrgyzstan from 2005 to 2008 and ambassador to Armenia from 2008 to 2011. She was U.S. ambassador to Ukraine from August 2016 until her abrupt removal in May.
Yovanovitch testimony will describe the 'first chapter' in Trump's Ukraine efforts, official says
House Democrats are holding their second public hearing with Yovanovitch to go into more detail about how President Donald Trump's efforts to get Ukraine to investigate his political rivals began, a Democratic official working on the impeachment inquiry told reporters Thursday evening.
"Ambassador Yovanovitch was really the first chapter of that story in that she was unceremoniously removed by the president for being very effective in her job in trying to root out corruption in Ukraine,” the official said.
The intention in the first public hearing with Bill Taylor and George Kent "was to provide the beginning-to-end storyline" of the president's actions, the official said.
“After a vicious smear campaign that was based on false allegations and propagated by the president and his allies, Yovanovitch was inappropriately fired," the official said. "This set the stage for the president’s scheme when he began to press Ukraine to investigate his political rival and affect the 2020 elections.”
Yovanovitch was the “first casualty” of the president’s Ukraine pressure campaign efforts, and her removal shows “even more evidence of abuse of power by the president to really set the stage for this irregular channel to really begin their pressure campaign,” the official said.
The way Trump described Yovanovitch in the July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy “leads many people to believe this was not an appropriate removal” and that it was “an attempt to remove somebody who was standing in the way of efforts by people like Rudy Giuliani to do the president’s political bidding in Ukraine.”
Scalise calls allegations against Trump 'baseless,' 'disgraceful'
House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., called the allegations against President Donald Trump "baseless" and "disgraceful" when asked about Speaker Nancy Pelosi's comments that the witnesses' testimony at the first public impeachment hearing Wednesday "corroborated evidence of bribery."
“I think it's disgraceful that these liberals here in Washington continue to try to throw baseless allegations and accusations at the president, when they've tried for years to push an impeachment narrative," Scalise told reporters Thursday.
He claimed that Pelosi, who refrained from launching a formal impeachment inquiry into Trump for much of the year despite pressure from her caucus, is "obsessed" with impeaching the president.
On Wednesday's testimony, Scalise said Democrats "don't have anything. There are no impeachable offenses," adding that they "refuse to bring issues that would actually help families, lower drug costs, do other things that matter to people, because they don't like the results of the 2016 election.”
Trump: Impeachment has been 'very hard on my family'
BOSSIER, La. — President Donald Trump suggested Thursday that the impeachment process was taking a personal toll, calling impeachment a "problem" that had been "very hard on my family."
“I have one problem. And it has been very hard on my family," he said at a campaign rally in Louisiana, adding that "impeachment, to me, is a dirty word."
"It’s been very unfair, very hard on my family. Me, it’s my whole life, it’s crazy," he said. "What a life I lead. You think this is fun, don’t you? But it’s been very hard on my family. Very, very hard."
The president left Washington, D.C. — and sporadic attempts to appear above the impeachment fray — behind Thursday night, attacking Democrats organizing the public hearings that began this week and the career diplomats testifying in those sessions.
Read the full story here.
Graham: Not going to let Trump be convicted 'based on a bunch of hearsay'
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., vowed Thursday not to vote for proceeding with a Senate impeachment trial unless the whistleblower comes forward.
"I will not allow trial in the Senate to go forward with my vote unless the whistleblower comes forward, even though they're offering hearsay," Graham told reporters outside a Judiciary Committee meeting.
"Now, I want to know, is there a connection between the whistleblower, the CIA, Biden or any other Democrat that would ... cast suspicions over their motives?" Graham asked. "I want to get to the bottom of this. We're not going to let the president of the United States be tried based on anonymous accusation. We're not going to let him be convicted in the Senate based on a bunch of hearsay."
Graham, who chairs the Judiciary panel, said a Senate trial would legitimize "a process that I think is a danger to the presidency itself. You’re having hearings in the House where Democrats only call witnesses, the whistleblower is being shielded from examination. It’s fundamentally unfair."
Graham added that if the tables were turned, with a Democratic president and a majority of Republicans in the House, a similar situation would "destroy the presidency over time. And how would you, as a member of Congress, like to be on the receiving end of this? Somebody said you did something wrong, the whistleblower complaint, but you can’t find out who they are, and all the accusations against you are based on hearsay. This is a dangerous precedent to set for the country."