Impeachment hearings day 2 live updates: Former ambassador to Ukraine testifies
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WASHINGTON (ABC NEWS) – Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine who was abruptly recalled from her post overseas, is testifying Friday in the second public impeachment hearing.
After fielding questions from impeachment investigators behind closed doors last month, she is offering details of her account of efforts to publicly discredit her and remove her from her post by some of the president’s political allies.
Here is how the hearing is unfolding. Please refresh for updates.
GOP counsel Steve Castor is now questioning Yovanovitch, in an extended 45-minute round of questioning.
Before he began, Rep. Devin Nunes tried to delegate his time to Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-NY. Schiff stopped him: Under the resolution passed by the House several weeks ago, only committee counsel and Schiff and Nunes are allowed to participate in the extended 45-minute round of questioning.
According to the rules for the impeachment inquiry approved in a full House vote several weeks ago, the chairman and ranking member can delegate part of their 45 minutes to counsel, but not other members. After the 45-minute rounds each member of the committee has 5 minutes for questions.
Despite those rules, Republicans immediately seized on Schiff’s actions, as they continue to criticize the process of these hearings put forward by Democrats. As Republicans are now attempting to play up this exchange on social media – ABC News’ Benjamin Siegel reports dozens of Republicans, including Stefanik and the RNC, are tweeting about it. A senior aide to Speaker Pelosi is calling them out for the “disingenuous stunt.”
One GOP aide appeared to equate it with the infamous Warren-McConnell exchange on the Senate floor in 2017, when the majority leader appeared to shut down the senator. It became a viral moment for Warren that she continues to reference on the 2020 trail, ABC News’ Benjamin Siegel reports.
Yovanovitch testified that she had never met Rudy Giuliani associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman but understood that they were working with Giuliani to try to remove her from her post.
Parnas and Fruman were trying to create new business opportunities in exporting liquified natural gas to Ukraine when the two were arrested. They have been charged with campaign finance violations in the Southern District of New York. Both men have pleaded not guilty and prosecutors say the case remains under investigation.
Yovanovitch said it was “unclear” to her why they wanted her removed. She also said it was unusual that the two never went to the embassy to seek assistance and “get the lay of the land.”
At 12:21 p.m. Schiff gaveled the hearing back into order. Republicans and Ranking Member Devin Nunes now have 45 minutes for questions.
Republican Devin Nunes is thanking Yovanovitch for her “performance” and noting she doesn’t have first-hand knowledge of the allegations central to the impeachment inquiry. Yovanovitch had already been ordered to leave Ukraine prior to several key events, including the White House order in July to freeze on military aid and Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukraine’s president in which he asked for a “favor” and pressed Ukraine to investigate the Bidens.
The Republican counsel, Steve Castor, is opening his line of questioning of Yovanovitch by thanking her for her service and recognizing her 33 years of service.
With Democrats decrying the president’s tweets this morning as “witness intimidation,” make note of the fact that a jury situated between the White House and the Capitol just determined one of the president’s oldest friends, Roger Stone, did just that, ABC News’ Lucien Bruggeman says.
One of the seven counts for which Stone was just found guilty was witness intimidation. The charge is based on his efforts to “attempt to corruptly persuade another person” subpoenaed to testify before a congressional committee…
ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos says that based on his experience working in the White House during the conflict in Mogadishu, Somalia “the idea that “somehow a junior foreign service officer could have anything to do with the situation in that country is beyond absurd.”
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