Public hearings in the House impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump entered the second day Friday with Marie Yovanovitch, former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, answering questions about her tenure and abrupt ouster from her post. After a 33-year career in foreign service, Yovanovitch was suddenly recalled from her post in May. She told House lawmakers during closed-door testimony on Oct. 11 that the deputy secretary of state informed her of a “concerted campaign” against her and pressure from the president for her to be removed from her role. Here are six moments you don’t want to miss:
Tension at the onset, as Republicans challenged the rules of the hearing
The hearing got off to a tense start, with clashes between lawmakers as Republicans sought to challenge the process from the beginning. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., sought a “point of order,” to ask about how the hearings were being conducted.
“Will the chairman continue to prohibit witnesses from answering Republican questions, as you’ve done in closed hearings, and as you did this week…” Stefanik asked.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff cut her off: “That’s not a proper point of order.” After a tense exchange, including interjections from other lawmakers, the hearing moved forward.
Trump tweets criticism of Amb. Yovanovitch in the middle of her testimony
While Yovanovitch was speaking, the president went after her service via Twitter. He wrote “everywhere” she went “turned bad.” When asked by Schiff about the tweet, Yovanovitch responded: “I can’t speak to what the president is trying to do, but I think the effect is to be intimidating.” Trump’s comments on Yovanovitch also drew broad criticism from both sides of the aisle, with Rep. Liz Cheney, the number three Republican in the House saying he was wrong for the tweet.
Yovanovitch felt threatened by Trump’s comments about her to Zelensky
During the Nov. 15 hearing, the Democrats’ lawyer Daniel Goldman, reviewed a log of a July phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. In that phone call, Trump said Yovanovitch is “going to go through some things.” In her testimony, Yovanovitch said she was “very concerned” by the statement. “It didn’t sound good, it sounded like a threat.”
Yovanovitch confirms the personal toll her ouster has taken
The former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine previously spoke about a “concerted campaign” against her and attempts by Trump associates to smear her reputation. When asked by Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Ala., about the personal toll this took on her, Yovanovitch said, “it’s been a very, very difficult time.” When asked more directly about the effect on her family, Yovanovitch declined to respond while visibly moved.
Yovanovitch disputes idea that there was a Ukrainian effort against Trump in the 2016 election
Republican counsel Stephen Castor asked Yovanovitch about Trump’s belief that Ukrainians sought to derail his 2016 election. “It was not brought to my attention during the two and a half years that I served under President Trump as our ambassador to Ukraine,” Yovanovitch said.
“In hindsight, was there any discussion at the embassy that there’s these indications of Ukrainians trying to at least advocate against then-candidate Trump?” Castor followed up.
“Actually, there weren’t,” Yovanovitch responded. “We didn’t really see it that way.”
Yovanovitch says she does not have first-hand knowledge of the Ukraine phone call
Ranking Member Devin Nunes questioned Yovanovitch about her role in the Trump administration’s actions in Ukraine.
“Were you involved in the July 25 Trump-Zelensky phone call or preparations for the call?” Nunes asked. “No, I was not,” Yovanovitch responded. “Were you involved in the deliberations about the pause in military sales to Ukraine as the Trump administration review newly elected President Zelensky’s commitment to corruption reform?” Nunes continued. “No, I was not,” Yovanovitch.
After the ambassador stated she did not have direct involvement in a number of key situations relevant to the inquiry, Nunes stated: “I’m not exactly sure what the ambassador is doing here today. … This seems more appropriate for the subcommittee on Human Resources at the Foreign Affairs Committee.” Republicans used this tactic in the previous public House impeachment hearing, held on Tuesday, to raise questions about the relevance of the witnesses.