Former Ambassador to the Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch took the stand Friday to tell the House Intelligence Committee about being shoved out of her posting after Rudy Giuliani and his cronies concocted a successful smear campaign against her.
In a compelling and personal account, she expressed how it felt to lose her job and the confidence of the President due to a backchannel effort. She also reacted to President Donald Trump’s tweets criticizing her in real time.
Here are the biggest moments from the second day of public impeachment hearings:
Schiff asked Yovanovitch to react to tweets Trump sent out while she was testifying
….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.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 15, 2019
Schiff read Trump’s tweets aloud, and Yovanovitch visibly reacted to the criticism.
“I don’t think I have such powers,” she said, after a pause, saying that she thinks she and other diplomats made the places they were stationed better. She added that though she couldn’t know Trump’s intent, the “effect” of the tweets was very intimidating.
Yovanovitch reacts in real time to Trump’s tweets attacking her during the hearing pic.twitter.com/E9acRkJrVE
— TPM Livewire (@TPMLiveWire) November 15, 2019
Schiff said that “some of us here take witness intimidation very seriously,” sparking a flurry of speculation that witness tampering could be added to Trump’s articles of impeachment.
White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham later told reporters that the tweets were “simply the President’s opinion.”
Yovanovitch successfully dismantled the GOP attorney’s series of implications that Ukraine was against candidate Trump
GOP attorney Steve Castor led Yovanovitch down a pointed line of questioning, trying to make the case that the Ukrainian establishment was hostile to Trump’s candidacy. He hit on the black ledger that exposed previously unknown transactions involving Paul Manafort and the former Ukrainian President, asking if the Ukrainian journalist who exposed the document did so to hurt Trump.
“Just speaking about Mr. Leshchenko, he is an investigative journalist, as you said, and he got access to the black ledger and he published it, as I think journalists would do,” she responded. ” I don’t have any information to suggest that that was targeting President Trump.”
Castor also tried to lure her to his conclusion with a question about Ukraine’s internal minister writing critical things about Trump online.
“He said some real nasty things,” Castor said.
Yovanovitch raised her eyebrows. “Well, sometimes that happens on social media,” she responded, as the hearing room burst into laughter.
Yovanovitch gets some laughs with a social media quip pic.twitter.com/b2xUonqAg6
— TPM Livewire (@TPMLiveWire) November 15, 2019
More details emerged about the night that she was recalled to the U.S.
The night that she was unceremoniously summoned back to the U.S., Yovanovitch said that she was hosting an event for Kateryna Handziuk, an activist who died after being doused in sulfuric acid.
In an ironic twist, Handziuk died trying to root out corruption in Ukraine by fighting against people like former prosecutor general Yuriy Lutsenko who blamed the activists for “stirring up society.” Lutsenko would become one of the key figures who helped push Yovanovitch out of her role.
Republicans did some perforative disruption for a headline
At the beginning of the second half of questioning, 45 minutes were available for either Ranking Member Devin Nunes (R-CA) or Castor to ask questions before the ball was tossed to individual members for five-minute segments.
Nunes spoke for a few minutes before trying to pass the mic to Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) in a blatant disregard of the logistical rules Republicans had agreed to and voted on.
When Schiff was having none of it, banging his gavel and insisting that Nunes or the attorney speak, Nunes and Stefanik threw a fit, looking incredulous and insisting that he was robbing them of their time.
And, like clockwork:
Oh, look at the top story on the Fox News homepage (hat tip to @IceManNYR). There is no debate here: only Schiff, Nunes and committee lawyers were allowed to speak at that point in the hearing. Stefanik was not “gagged”; her questioning time just came later in the proceedings. pic.twitter.com/YKCZjU6gLU
— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) November 15, 2019
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