Analysis after Marie Yovanovitch's impeachment testimony

Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch gave public testimony Friday regarding the circumstances of her abrupt ouster from her post.
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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

Trump defends attacking Yovanovitch after Dems accuse him of 'witness intimidation'

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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Live Blog

Yovanovitch arrives for hearing

Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch arrives to testify to the House Intelligence Committee, on Nov. 15, 2019, on Capitol Hill.Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP

Posters are up

The posters on tripods on the Republican side of the dais read:

  • “I have never seen a direct relationship between investigations and security assistance.” Ukrainian foreign minister Vadym Prystaiko November 14, 2019.

Trump also mentioned the statement in a pair of overnight tweets

  • 95 days since Adam Schiff learned the identity of the whistleblower.
  • “I’m concerned if we don’t impeach this president, he will get re-elected.” Al Green

The number of chairs in the audience for members of Congress has been cut in half, from the about 70 on Wednesday to about 35 today. There are now seats reserved for a House staff with credentials.

OPINION: Republicans' Sixth Amendment impeachment objection has ominous implications

Not every constitutional law question has two sides. We don’t lose sleep, for example, over how many senators represent each state (two), or whether representation in the House must be proportional (yes), or whether the president really has to be at least 35 years old at the time he is sworn in (he does). Much of the time, the text of the Constitution is clear beyond any reasonable dispute — leaving no room for even the most compelling policy arguments that the text should be understood to mean something else.

But you wouldn’t know this from the latest legal objection to the ongoing House impeachment proceedings — that they violate the president’s Sixth Amendment right to confront the witnesses against him.

The right to confront is one of nearly a dozen different individual rights protected by the Sixth Amendment. Those rights apply, per the first four words of that provision, “[i]n all criminal prosecutions.” Thus, federal criminal defendants today have a panoply of protections all designed to ensure the fairness of their trial — ranging from the right to a speedy and public trial to the right to the assistance of counsel in their defense. But only in criminal cases. 

Read the full piece.

Trump on Yovanovitch: 'I don't know much about her'

Budget official expected to defy White House, testify in impeachment inquiry

A top official at the Office of Management and Budget indicated Thursday he is willing to testify in the House impeachment inquiry, his attorney said.

Mark Sandy would be the first employee from the OMB to defy the White House and appear before Congressional investigators. The White House has urged administration officials not to comply with what they are calling a sham investigation.

“If Mr. Sandy is subpoenaed, he will testify this Saturday,” Barbara Van Gelder, an attorney at Cozen O'Conner, said in an email.

Sandy is considered a critical witness who can provide insight into the withheld security aid to Ukraine, which is at the basis of the impeachment inquiry opened by House Democrats.

Read the full story here.

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.

Here's how to watch the hearing.

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.”