Takeaways from Day 2 of House impeachment public hearings | TribLIVE.com
Politics Election

Takeaways from Day 2 of House impeachment public hearings

Associated Press
1948923_web1_1948923-8ab83bbd606a476f92cd78ce549cd70c
AP
Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch testifies before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Nov. 15, 2019, in the second public impeachment hearing of President Donald Trump’s efforts to tie U.S. aid for Ukraine to investigations of his political opponents.
1948923_web1_1948923-1ed87c794a5b44029063616f7d061d3d
AP
Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff, D-Calif., calls a recess as former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch testifies before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Nov. 15, 2019, during the second public impeachment hearing of President Donald Trump’s efforts to tie U.S. aid for Ukraine to investigations of his political opponents.
1948923_web1_1948923-6e70629581bf4de699f19dd61686a0f4
AP
Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch testifies before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Nov. 15, 2019, during the second public impeachment hearing of President Donald Trump’s efforts to tie U.S. aid for Ukraine to investigations of his political opponents.
1948923_web1_1948923-660a2b2ccc63468094e67419fba34a35
AP
A quote is shown on a monitor as former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch testifies before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Nov. 15, 2019, during the second public impeachment hearing of President Donald Trump’s efforts to tie U.S. aid for Ukraine to investigations of his political opponents.
1948923_web1_1948923-be3fc1fa8b084f88a5d20e13ec95a5a3
AP
Rep. William Hurd, R-Texas, listens as former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch testifies before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Nov. 15, 2019, during the second public impeachment hearing of President Donald Trump’s efforts to tie U.S. aid for Ukraine to investigations of his political opponents.

WASHINGTON — Day Two of the House impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump featured a career diplomat with a soft voice and a powerful story.

Marie Yovanovitch, under questioning from the Democrats, said she felt threatened by the president as she detailed the story of being abruptly recalled from her post as U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.

Some key takeaways from Yovanovitch’s testimony:


POLITICAL IS PERSONAL

This was no staid, bureaucratic tale told by a distant and removed narrator.

Yovanovitch’s account was, instead, deeply personal, colored with outrage over having been “knee-capped” by lies and her abrupt recall from a country about whose fate she cared deeply. After a “smear campaign” she said involved Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and was amplified by cable news hosts and the president’s oldest son, Donald, Jr., she was directed in April 2019 to come back to Washington on the next plane because she no longer had the confidence of the president.

“I remain disappointed that the (State) Department’s leadership and others have declined to acknowledge that the attacks against me and others are dangerously wrong,” Yovanovitch said.

She said professional public servants serve U.S. interests regardless of who occupies the White House, and she invoked the diplomats who were killed in the 2012 Benghazi attacks, tortured in captivity in Iran, and injured in mysterious attacks in Cuba.

“We honor these individuals. They represent each one of you here — and every American. These courageous individuals were attacked because they symbolized America,” she said.


‘VERY INTIMIDATING’

Yovanovitch left no doubt that she interpreted some of the Trump’s cryptic comments about her — “she’s going to go through some things,” among them — in the most chilling way.

“It didn’t sound good,” she said. “It sounded like a threat.”

The effect of the president’s comments, she said, “is very intimidating” and not just for her but for others who might be inclined to publicly attack corruption.

To which Democrat Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House intelligence committee, responded: “Well, I want to let you know, Ambassador, that some of us here take witness intimidation very, very seriously.”


TRUMP SMEARS THE WITNESS

He would be too busy to watch, said the White House.

He’d tune into an opening statement delivered by the top Republican on the panel, Rep. Devin Nunes, but spend the rest of the day “working hard for the American people,” Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said.

Instead, Trump responded to the hearing in real time, castigating Yovanovitch by tweet as she testified about her poor treatment by Trump and his administration.

“Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad,” tweeted Trump, pointing to the time she spent in war-torn Somalia and in Ukraine, where Trump said “the new Ukrainian President spoke unfavorably about her.”

He also defended his decision to pull her from her post, arguing the U.S. president has an “absolute right to appoint ambassadors” who serve “at the pleasure of the President.”

Schiff read Trump’s tweet to Yovanovitch and suggested it was part of a campaign of “witness intimidation.”

Yovanovitch described the president’s attacks as “very intimidating.”


‘WERE YOU INVOLVED?’

Republicans avoided impugning her character in initial questioning. They mostly steered clear, too, of challenging her decades-long career in diplomacy.

Instead, the questioning from Rep. Devin Nunes, the top Republican on the committee, and Steve Castor, the GOP chief investigative counsel, appeared aimed at blunting the impact of her testimony by getting her to concede the key events and discussions she was not part of — including the fact that she had not spoken to Trump for all of 2019.

Were you involved? Nunes asked at one point, in the July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelenskiy or in the preparations for it? Yovanovitch replied she wasn’t.

How about, he asked, the deliberations over the “pause” in military aid to Ukraine as the U.S. reviewed the new president’s “commitment to corruption reforms?” Was she involved in that?

“For the delay?” she asked

“For the pause,” Nunes pointedly replied

“No,” Yovanovitch conceded, “I was not.”

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.