On Capitol Hill, former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch testified Friday as part of the televised impeachment hearings into whether President Trump withheld military aid from Ukraine in order to pressure the Ukrainian president to investigate President Trump’s political rival Joe Biden and his son. Yovanovitch was abruptly recalled from her post in May as part of a smear campaign to discredit her led by President Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani. This is a clip of Yovanovitch’s opening statement.
Marie Yovanovitch: “Perhaps it was not surprising that when our anti-corruption efforts got in the way of a desire for profit or power, Ukrainians who preferred to play by the old, corrupt rules sought to remove me. What continues to amaze me is that they found Americans willing to partner with them, and, working together, they apparently succeeded in orchestrating the removal of a U.S. ambassador. How could our system fail like this? How is it that foreign corrupt interests can manipulate our government? Which countries’ interests are served when the very corrupt behavior we have been criticizing is allowed to prevail?”
Yovanovitch has repeatedly said she felt threatened by Trump, who called her “bad news” in his now-infamous July 25 call with Ukrainian President Zelensky. During this call, Trump also said of Yovanovitch, “She’s going to go through some things.” On Friday, Yovanovitch testified that she felt “shocked, appalled and devastated” when she learned what Trump had said about her in the phone call. While Yovanovitch was testifying, Trump again attacked her, writing on Twitter, “Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad.” House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff asked Yovanovitch about Trump’s latest attacks on her during her testimony Friday.
Rep. Adam Schiff: “The president implicitly threatened you in that call record. And now the president, in real time, is attacking you. What effect do you think that has on other witnesses’ willingness to come forward and expose wrongdoing?”
Marie Yovanovitch: “Well, it’s very intimidating.”
Later on Friday, State Department official David Holmes confirmed in a closed-door testimony to House impeachment investigators that he overheard Trump asking U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland about political investigations that Trump was seeking from the president of Ukraine. This confirms a key part of Ambassador William Taylor’s testimony last week in which he revealed details about the previously unknown phone call.
Also on Friday, the House Intelligence Committee released the testimony of Jennifer Williams, a special adviser to Vice President Mike Pence and a member of his National Security Council staff. In her testimony, she called the July 25 phone call between Trump and the Ukrainian president “unusual and inappropriate.” In response, President Trump attacked her on Saturday on Twitter, accusing her of being a “Never Trumper.”