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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Trump defends attacking Yovanovitch after Democrats accuse him of 'witness intimidation'
WASHINGTON — Democrats may see it as "witness intimidation," but President Donald Trump says he was just offering his opinion when he bashed his former ambassador to Ukraine during her public testimony in the impeachment inquiry.
“I have the right to speak. I have the freedom of speech just as other people do,” Trump told reporters at the White House Friday hours after a tweet that Democrats equated with witness tampering.
"Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad. 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 U.S. President's absolute right to appoint ambassadors," Trump tweeted as Yovanovitch was testifying before the House Intelligence Committee.
Democrats suggested the tweet was tantamount to a criminal act, and could be added to possible articles of impeachment. During a break in testimony, committee chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., called the tweet "witness intimidation in real time." He also read Trump's tweets to Yovanovitch during the hearing and asked her to respond.
“Where I've served over the years, I and others have demonstrably made things better,” she said, including in Ukraine.
White House's Gidley responds to questions about discrepancy on April call
White House principal deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley gave a statement in response to questions about the discrepancy between the April readout (released months ago) of the call between Trump and Zelenskiy, which said the president emphasized rooting out corruption, and memo on the call (released Friday), in which there was no mention of such a thing.
“The President continues to push for transparency in light of these baseless accusations and has taken the unprecedented steps to release the transcripts of both phone calls with President Zelensky so that every American can see he did nothing wrong," Gidley said. "It is standard operating procedure for the National Security Council to provide readouts of the President’s phone calls with foreign leaders. This one was prepared by the NSC’s Ukraine expert.”
Yovanovitch acknowledges members of the audience as she concludes her testimony
Dems give Yovanovitch a standing O, Nunes predicts 'plummeting' TV ratings for 'show trial'
The closing statements from Nunes and Schiff made it seem as though the two congressmen had participated in two different hearings.
In his, Nunes addressed “the American people,” telling them that “today’s show trial has come to an end” and announced that he and some of his colleagues would now be “heading down to the basement of the Capitol Building” where they’d be “hiding behind closed doors” to interview another witness in the inquiry — David Holmes, the counselor for political affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine.
He closed by complaining that “television ratings must be plummeting right now” for the networks airing coverage of the hearing.
Schiff, on the other hand, lauded Yovanovitch for appearing.
“What you did coming forward … is give courage to others who witnessed wrongdoing,” he said. Schiff went on to summarize what he called Trump’s “corrupt intent” in conditioning military aid to Ukraine on the launching of an investigation into the Bidens.
The hearing ended with the Democratic members of the committee standing and giving a round of applause for Yovanovitch for her service to the State Department.
Yovanovitch says attacking foreign service officers 'deeply troubling’
Yovanovitch told Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., that there are morale issues at the State Department following the smear campaign against her and the lack of support from top department officials after she was recalled and later attacked by Trump.
“It’s deeply troubling and there are morale issues at the State Department,” she said.
When Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill., later asked if she was "concerned that other ambassadors may suffer the same fate as you," she replied, "yes."
GOP Rep. Zeldin says Democrats wanted Yovanovitch ‘to cry for the cameras’
Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., told reporters Friday that Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee were trying to get Yovanovitch, to “cry for the cameras” during the second impeachment hearing.
The remarks came when NBC News’ Garrett Haake asked Zeldin why Trump feels the need to attack Yovanovitch if he and Republicans are dismissing her testimony as irrelevant.
“The reason why that 45 minutes was spent with her getting asked questions about her feelings is because House Democrats wanted to recreate what happened in the deposition," Zeldin said. "They wanted her to cry for the cameras. It’s unfortunate."
Asked how he knows that that’s Democrats’ strategy, Zeldin said, “I was in the depositions, and inside of the depositions, what they wanted to use was the part of the July 25 call transcript where they take President Trump’s words, and then they want to ask her how she felt, and then they want to get her to cry. That’s what happened previously, and it was obvious that they were looking to do exactly the same thing that they did last time, to do it again.”
The detail that Yovanovitch had cried in her closed-door deposition was not widely known. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, D-N.Y., said in a statement after that initial interview that she was “overcome with emotion” at times and had to leave the room.
Zeldin also suggested that it was acceptable for Trump to defend himself on Twitter on Friday morning when he smeared Yovanovitch amid her testimony, saying, “The president’s going to defend himself, whether it’s today, it’s yesterday, it’s tomorrow, it’s the hours, the days, the weeks that are ahead. The president of the United States know that this is a total sham.”
Schiff, Jordan zingers rouse silent crowd
Schiff and Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, exchanged fiery words toward the end of Jordan’s allotment of time, breathing fresh air into a lengthy hearing that has already stretched nearly six hours.
After a long wind up outlining a question to Yovanovitch, the witness asked Jordan whether he had, in fact, asked her anything
As he attempted to restate the question, his time ran out, but Schiff allowed him to continue.
Jordan, however, once again engaged in a lengthy wind-up with no clear question, prompting Schiff to say, “I have indulged you with extra time, my indulgence is wearing out.”
Unimpressed, Jordan shot back, “Our indulgence with you wore out a long time ago.”
The audience was quiet all day, but during the exchange there was audible laughter when Schiff said his indulgence of Jordan was running out, then a chorus of “oooohs” when Jordan said his indulgence ran out a long time ago.