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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Nunes questions reason for Yovanovitch's public testimony
Nunes, kicking off questioning for GOP members on the committee, points out that Yovanovitch was not a “firsthand” witness to dealings related to the freeze on military aid to Ukraine that is at the center of the impeachment inquiry.
He also complains that he’s “not sure what the ambassador is doing here today” because she wasn’t on the July 25 phone call between Trump and Zelenskiy.
He goes on to say that the House Intelligence Committee “has turned into the House impeachment committee.”
Hearing reconvenes after break for votes
The hearing is being gaveled back in now at 12:20 p.m.
Trump administration thinking on impeachment politics
A Trump administration official working on impeachment says officials are closely watching the polling on impeachment and comparing it with contemporaneous polling on Brett Kavanaugh ahead of his confirmation vote to the Supreme Court. Right now they see the same trend as with Kavanaugh: that the polls show the public remains deeply divided and, as long as that continues, they’re OK. If it starts to move, they worry that vulnerable GOP senators like Cory Gardner of Colorado and Martha McSally of Arizona may turn.
The other element the administration is watching, according to the official, are the filing deadlines to get on the ballot for various House districts compared to when the House vote is held on impeachment. Here’s the thinking: Right now you have Democrats in battleground districts who, if the filing deadline for their district has passed and they’re going to sail through their primary, may be inclined to vote with Republicans against impeaching the president.
But if their filing deadlines haven’t passed, those Democrats could be vulnerable to a late-entry primary challenge from the left if they vote against impeachment, making them more likely to stick with Pelosi on the vote. The administration is hoping to peel off at least a few Democratic House members so that they can argue there was bipartisan opposition to impeaching and only partisan support for impeaching.
The official says the witness that most worries administration officials is the Gordon Sondland, the ambassador to the E.U., because of the possibility he may perjure himself and the unpredictability of what he’ll say, given that he’s already contradicted his initial testimony in his follow-up declaration. The concern is that if he’s seen as having lied, it reflects negatively on the administration because he’s a political appointee, furthering the narrative about Trump and his political appointees versus the honorable, by-the-book career bureaucrats.
Swalwell says Dems will consider Trump's attacks for possible articles of impeachment
Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., a member of the Intelligence Committee, told reporters that the president is engaging in witness intimidation and said investigators will consider it for potential articles of impeachment.
“Innocent people don’t intimidate and he’s just acting more guilty,” Swalwell told reporters.
When asked if it could be added to an article of impeachment as obstruction of justice, he said, “It will be considered. It will be considered, yes. With other obstructive acts like going after the whistleblower.”
Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., a member of the House Judiciary Committee, which would consider articles of impeachment, tweeted, “The President is engaging in witness tampering during a Congressional impeachment hearing. That is a crime. Every Republican should have to say whether they’re okay with him doing that.”
Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., tweeted that the president’s attacks on Yovanovitch were “highly concerning” and Congress won’t “tolerate such behavior.”
Their comments come after Trump attacked Yovanovitch’s reputation in a tweet during the hearing. When asked to react to the president’s remarks, the former ambassador said “it’s very intimidating.”
Pelosi tweets support for Yovanovitch
Klobuchar: 'Her words speak for me'
Trump confidant Roger Stone found guilty on all counts in federal trial
A federal jury in Washington on Friday found Trump associate Roger Stone guilty of seven counts of lying to Congress, obstruction and witness tampering in a case that was an offshoot of the Mueller probe.
The longtime Trump confidant faces prison time on the charges, which stemmed from his alleged efforts to find out when WikiLeaks would be releasing emails hacked from the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton's campaign in 2016.
What's going on inside the White House today?
Top staffers to President Donald Trump have been huddling behind closed doors in the West Wing. White House counsel Pat Cipollone, leaving the office of Hogan Gidley, declined to answer questions about whether the president’s real-time tweets on Yovanovitch amounted to witness intimidation.
Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, leaving press secretary Stephanie Grisham’s office, also did not answer questions.
Despite the White House’s insistence that the president “will be working hard for the American people” today, he is clearly engaged in the hearing nonetheless.