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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Yovanovitch responds to Trump attacks
Schiff read out loud Trump's tweets attacking Yovanovitch and asked her to respond.
“Where I've served over the years, I and others have demonstrably made things better,” she said, including Ukraine where she said “there are huge challenges” but they’ve made a lot of progress since 2014.
That progress, she said, was made in part by the work of the U.S. and by her work as ambassador to Ukraine.
Schiff asked Yovanovitch how the president’s words might affect other witnesses in the impeachment inquiry.
“It’s very intimidating,” she said.
Schiff told Yovanovitch, “Some of us here take witness intimidation very, very seriously.”
Trump lashes out at Yovanovitch on Twitter during hearing
Trump on Friday smeared Yovanovitch as she testified.
In a second tweet in the thread, Trump wrote, “They call it 'serving at the pleasure of the President.' The U.S. 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 O.”
Trump’s claim, however, that Zelenskiy was the one who spoke unfavorably about Yovanovitch is not true.
In the July 25 phone call between Trump and Zelenskiy, Trump said about Yovanovitch: “The former ambassador from the United States, the woman, was bad news and the people she was dealing with in the Ukraine were bad news so I just want to let you know that.”
Zelenskiy responded: “It was great that you were the first one who told me that she was a bad ambassador because I agree with you 100 percent. Her attitude towards me was far from the best as she admired the previous president and she was on his side. She would not accept me as a new president well enough.”
Trump then responded: “Well, she’s going to go through some things. I will have Mr. Giuliani give you a call and I am also going to have Attorney General Barr call and we will get to the bottom of it.”
Yovanovitch said she felt threatened by Trump comments
Goldman asked Yovanovitch how she felt about Trump’s statement that she was going to “go through some things” -- a phrase the president used about her in his July 25 phone call with Zelenskiy, according to the White House summary of the call.
“I didn’t know what to think, but I was very concerned,” she said.
“What were you concerned about?” Goldman asked.
“It didn’t sound good. It sounded like a threat,” Yovanovitch replied.
“Did you feel threatened?” Goldman asked.
“I did,” Yovanovitch said.
Yovanovitch says she never heard of a president recalling an ambassador based on false info
In a poignant line of questioning, Daniel Goldman, the attorney leading the questioning for the Democratic members of the Intelligence Committee, was able to extract from Yovanovitch exactly how unusual — and unprecedented — her ouster from Ukraine was.
Goldman asked Yovanovitch if she had “ever heard of a president recalling an ambassador without cause” due to information “that the State Department itself knew to be false?”
“No,” she replied.
Yovanovitch describes emotional toll of her ouster
Yovanovitch was asked about her reaction to learning about her abrupt ouster.
"Terrible, honestly," she said. "It’s not the way I wanted my career to end."
She also said she was "shocked" when she learned that Trump had called her "bad news."
"The color drained from my face," she said, becoming visibly emotional. "I even had a physical reaction. Even now, words kind of fail me."
She added that "it kind of felt like a vague threat" when Trump told Zelenskiy in their July call that she was "going to go through some things."
Meet the two seasoned staff prosecutors now in impeachment spotlight
The fast-moving impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump's efforts to get Ukraine to investigate his political rivals is not only putting the partisanship on the House Intelligence Committee on full display, it's also catapulting the lead lawyers for both parties into the national spotlight.
Daniel Goldman is the Democrats' lead counsel and Steve Castor represents the Republicans. Both lawyers have extensive experience in Washington and in the courtroom and led the questioning of the closed-door depositions of witnesses in the inquiry. Both will have 45 minutes to grill witnesses on behalf of their respective sides as the inquiry moves forward.
Read the full story here.
Yovanovitch describes the moment she was recalled
Yovanovitch is re-telling the story of the late-night April 2019 phone call she received from the State Department abruptly calling her back to the U.S. During the call, Carol Perez, the director general of the Foreign Service, told Yovanovitch there was “great concern” for her safety and that she needed to return to Washington on “the next plane.”
Yovanovitch had shared this story with House investigators during her closed-door testimony last month but revealed new details on Friday, including that she had just finished hosting a dinner party at her residence in Ukraine honoring an anti-corruption activist in the country who had died after being attacked with acid.
Close Trump ally Mark Meadows spotted at hearing
Jordan left his seat to talk to two staff members at the end of the dias. At about the same time, South Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows, who is sitting in the audience, stood up and walked to the back of the room. After Jordan finished talking to his staff, the staff walked to Meadows and the three walked out the hearing door
Meadows, a fierce Trump ally, is not on the Intelligence Committee but is extremely involved in the Republican strategy. Meadows was spotted at the White House yesterday afternoon.
No mention of Trump's desire to reform corruption in notes on first call
Flashback to April 21 and this readout from the White House about the initial call between President Trump and President Zelenskiy:
The White House, at the time, said the president expressed commitment to work with Ukraine “to implement reforms that strengthen democracy, increase prosperity, and root out corruption.”
There’s nothing in the so-called transcript just released by the White House that specifically reflects the president’s desire for corruption reform. As we’ve noted before, the administration itself specifically notes that this memo “is not a verbatim transcript of a discussion” and is instead compiled from notes and recollections of staffers listening in.