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Trump Attacks Yovanovitch During Testimony: Impeachment Update

The House Intelligence Committee’s second public hearing on Friday features testimony by former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, who was removed from that post in May by President Donald Trump.

Later, the committee will hear in a closed session from David Holmes, a staff member at the U.S. embassy in Kyiv, about this week’s revelation that Trump on July 26 asked envoy Gordon Sondland about the status of “investigations” he sought from Ukraine.

Here are the latest developments:

Trump Attacks Yovanovitch During Testimony (10:06 a.m.)

During Yovanovitch’s testimony, Trump wrote on Twitter: “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.”

Yovanovitch Says Ukraine Policy in Disarray (9:49 a.m.)

Yovanovitch said corrupt forces in Ukraine sought to remove her, and said she was “amazed” they found allies among Americans.

“Our Ukraine policy has been thrown into disarray, and shady interests the world over have learned how little it takes to remove an American ambassador who does not give them what they want,” she said.

“Such conduct undermines the U.S., exposes our friends, and widens the playing field for autocrats like President Putin,” she said.

“I remain disappointed that the department’s leadership and others have declined to acknowledge that the attacks against me and others are dangerously wrong,” she said, in a clear swipe at Secretary of State Michael Pompeo.

“This is about far, far more than me or a couple of individuals. As Foreign Service professionals are being denigrated and undermined, the institution is also being degraded. This will soon cause real harm, if it hasn’t already,” she said.

Yovanovitch Says Claims About Her Untrue (9:40 a.m.)

Yovanovitch called “untrue” the allegations that she “told unidentified embassy employees or Ukrainian officials that President Trump’s orders should be ignored because ‘he was going to be impeached’ — or for any other reason.”

She also said the Obama administration “did not ask me to help the Clinton campaign or harm the Trump campaign, nor would I have taken any such steps if they had.”

Regarding Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, she said that she had “minimal” contact with him.

“I do not understand Mr. Giuliani’s motives for attacking me, nor can I offer an opinion on whether he believed the allegations he spread about me,” she said.

Envoy Describes Service Regardless of Party (9:32 a.m.)

Yovanovitch opened her testimony by describing herself as an American citizen “who has devoted the majority of my life, 33 years, to service to the country that all of us love.“

She said her job in the foreign service is to carry out the policies of the president “regardless of which person or party was in power.”

“I had no other agenda other than to pursue our stated foreign policy goals,” Yovanovitch said.

Before she began her testimony, Schiff called on the administration to release a number of withheld documents, including notes kept by Bill Taylor, current envoy to Ukraine. He also said he hopes Trump will explain why he told Vice President Mike Pence not to attend Zelenskiy’s inauguration.

Nunes Reads Transcript of Initial Trump Call (9:26 a.m.)

Top committee Republican Devin Nunes, during his opening remarks, read the newly released transcript of Trump’s April phone call with Volodymyr Zelenskiy congratulating him on his election as Ukraine’s president.

Zelenskiy called Trump a “great example” and invited him to attend the inauguration. Trump responded that at the least, a “great representative” would attend.

Nunes also said the witnesses being brought before the impeachment hearings are giving second-hand accounts. “In other words, rumor,” he said.

“I’ll note that House Democrats vowed they would not put the American people through a wrenching impeachment process without bipartisan support — and they have none,” Nunes said. “Add that to their ever-growing list of broken promises and destructive deceptions.”

Trump is watching only Nunes’s remarks, said White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham.

“The president will be watching Congressman Nunes’ opening statement, but therest of the day he will be working hard for the American people,” she said in a statement.

Nunes Says Democrats Aim to ‘Topple’ Trump (9:16 a.m.)

The committee’s top Republican, Devin Nunes, opened by accusing Democrats of mounting an “operation to topple a duly elected president.“

Nunes just four years ago became the youngest-ever chairman of the Intelligence panel. He was a member of Trump’s transition team, and he’s also a fierce partisan. In the session of Congress, Nunes and other Republicans led a two-year effort alleging that the FBI and Department of Justice opened their investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign in order to hurt Trump.

Schiff Says Envoy Viewed as ‘Obstacle’ (9:13 a.m.)

Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said in his opening statement that Yovanovitch was recalled from her post because “she was considered an obstacle to the furtherance of the president’s personal and political agenda. For that she was smeared and cast aside.”

Getting rid of her “helped set stage for an irregular channel that could pursue the two investigations that mattered so much to the president, the 2016 conspiracy theory, and most important, an investigation into the 2020 political opponent he apparently feared most, Joe Biden,” Schiff said.

Schiff Opens Second House Public Hearing (9:08 a.m.)

Committee Chairman Adam Schiff opened the hearing by describing Yovanovitch’s recall to Washington in April “because she did not have the confidence of the president.”

The hearings have vaulted Schiff to the national stage, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi picked him over House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler to take the leading role. In Wednesday’s hearing, he and other Democrats got what they wanted from the testimony of two career, nonpartisan diplomats who helped frame the impeachment inquiry.

House Committee Opens Second Public Hearing (9:06 a.m.)

Committee Chairman Adam Schiff gaveled in the panel’s second hearing, with Yovanovitch’s testimony to begin shortly.

Yovanovitch to Testify About Her Ouster (6 a.m.)

The public will hear for the first time from Yovanovitch about what she experienced as Trump and his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, maneuvered for her ouster.

Yovanovitch testified in private on Oct. 11 that she was called back to Washington after a “concerted campaign” by Trump and his allies, including Giuliani, according to a transcript released later.

Because she left Ukraine in May, she lacks direct knowledge of Trump’s effort during a July 25 phone call to pressure Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy for an investigation of Joe Biden and his son.

Yovanovitch testified that she felt threatened by the way Trump spoke about her on that call, which was documented by a White House memo later made public. Trump called her “bad news” and said “she’s going to go through some things.”

Catch Up on Impeachment Coverage

Key Events

Trump showed a group of Republican senators a transcript of his April 21 call congratulating Zelenskiy on his election as the president of Ukraine. Trump had said Wednesday he planned to release a summary of the call as soon as Thursday, though he hasn’t yet done so.The Gordon Sondland transcript is here and here; former special envoy Kurt Volker’s transcript is here and here. Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch’s transcript is here and here; the transcript of Michael McKinley, former senior adviser to the secretary of State, is here. The transcript of William Taylor, the top U.S. envoy to Ukraine, is here and here. State Department official George Kent’s testimony is here and here. Testimony by Alexander Vindman can be found here, and the Fiona Hill transcript is here. Laura Cooper’s transcript is here; Christopher Anderson’s is here and Catherine Croft’s is here.Taylor’s opening statement is here; Kent’s statement is here.

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