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National Govt & Politics
LIVE: Day Two of Impeachment hearings against President Trump
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LIVE: Day Two of Impeachment hearings against President Trump

LIVE: Day Two of Impeachment hearings against President Trump

LIVE: Day Two of Impeachment hearings against President Trump

With President Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress continuing to denounce investigative proceedings led by Democrats, the U.S. House Intelligence Committee was holding a second day of impeachment hearings on Friday, continuing to focus on efforts by the President's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, to undermine American diplomats in Ukraine.

After hearing on Wednesday from the acting U.S. Ambassador and a top State Department official, the focus in this hearing is the ex-Ambassador, Marie Yovanovitch, who was forced out of her post earlier in 2019, after a campaign which she - and other State Department officials - have blamed on Giuliani.

"I do not know Mr. Giuliani's motives for attacking me," Yovanovitch said in a closed door deposition in October.

Follow here for updates on today's hearing.

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3:25 pm. Schiff ends the hearing with a quick gavel, much to the GOP's aggravation. The audience stands and cheers for Yovanovitch as she leaves the hearing room.  That is not a usual scene in a hearing room.

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LIVE: Day Two of Impeachment hearings against President Trump

3:00 pm.  This hearing is almost over.  But down in the bowels of the Capitol, another deposition is beginning in the impeachment investigation.  This one is with a staff aide to the acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, who reportedly overheard a conversation between the President and Gordon Sondland.

2:55 pm.  After a break, Rep. Jim Jordan R-OH again presses the GOP case about why President Trump should feel worried over political actions by people in the Ukraine government in 2016.  After Jordan rattles off a series of statements, Yovanovitch dryly says politicians say stuff - and that she did not see any evidence of a concerted effort by the government of Ukraine to meddle in the 2016 election.

2:25 pm. Asked by Rep. John Ratcliffe R-TX about the prep she received for her nomination in 2016 as Ambassador to Ukraine, Yovanovitch said her guidance was - if asked by a Senator about Hunter Biden and Burisma - to say, “I would refer you to the Vice President's office on that.”  Later, Yovanovitch again says the situation could create the perception of a conflict of interest.

2:05 pm. Yovanovitch was asked about how she dealt with the question of what to do about the campaign against her spurred by Rudy Giuliani.  Yovanovitch said she asked Gordon Sondland, the U.S. Ambassador to the European Union, what to do. Sondland had close ties to the President.

1:50 pm. Yovanovitch repeats again that certainly a President can remove an Ambassador for any reason - but she openly asks why there needed to be a smear campaign against her.

Rep Wenstrup R-OH: "Well, I wasn't asking about that."

 

1:25 pm. GOP lawmakers are repeatedly asking Yovanovitch about her post-Ukraine career (now on a fellowship at Georgetown), making the case that she has not been fired or punished after her removal.

1:05 pm.  Castor's time for questions to Yovanovitch finally ends.  He almost seemed relieved.

12:55 pm.  After starting by making clear that Yovanovitch did not have first hand knowledge about what happened with the President's actions with respect to Ukraine, now the GOP counsel is asking about items which happened before she arrived in Ukraine in 2016.

12:45 pm.  In a lengthy line of questioning, Castor is allowing Yovanovitch to more fully explain how Giuliani was trying to push her out.

12:30 pm.  The GOP committee counsel continues to make the case that since Yovanovitch was not the Ambassador after May 20, she has no evidence to offer. 

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LIVE: Day Two of Impeachment hearings against President Trump

12:25 pm.  The 45 minutes of time for Rep. Nunes begins, as Republicans press the argument that she knows nothing about the events related to impeachment.

"I'm not exactly sure what the Ambassador is doing here today," said Nunes.

12:15 pm.  President Trump is not pleased with the Stone verdict.

12:00 pm.  Stone guilty of lying to Congress, obstruction of justice and more.

11:55 am.  Meanwhile, just a few blocks away, news is breaking, as Trump confidant Roger Stone has been found guilty on seven counts stemming from the Mueller investigation.  Some of the still photographers in the hearing room here are scrambling to grab their gear and run down to get pictures.

11:45 am.  From Fox News about today's events.  The President's tweets have clearly derailed whatever GOP messaging plans Republicans had for today's hearing.

11:40 am.  Critics of the President see his tweets this morning about Yovanovitch as yet another marker for impeachment efforts in the House.

11:20 am.  House Republicans grabbed one of my tweets this morning, and it has become a hot property for GOP voices on Twitter in the last hour.

11:15 am.  Don't expect an avalanche of negative reaction from the GOP over today's tweets from the President.

11:05 am.  There are a number of votes on the House floor. We are being told not to expect the hearing to reconvene for maybe another hour or more.

10:55 am.  It seems that viewers on Fox News are getting a different portrayal than usual today.

10:50 am.  The President's tweets are quickly frowned on by one member of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Elise Stefanik R-NY.

10:45 am.  The President's tweets are getting a lot of attention.  This from Fox News.

10:25 am.  It is an extraordinary moment.  Yovanovitch is testifying, and at the same time the President is attacking her on Twitter.  Rep. Adam Schiff D-CA interrupts questioning to read the new tweets.  “It's very intimidating,” says Yovanovitch.  “The effect is to be intimidating.”

10:15 am.  Asked about the President's comments about her in his July 25 phone call with the leader of Ukraine, Yovanovitch said she was alarmed.

“She's going to go through some things,” Yovanovitch quotes the President from the call transcript.  “It didn't sound good.  It sounded like a threat.”

10:10 am.  As Yovanovitch tells her story to the impeachment hearing, President Trump is attacking her on Twitter.

10:05 am.  Yovanovitch says State Department officials asked her in early March to stay through July of 2020 as Ambassador.  Six weeks later, they told her to get on the next flight out of the country.

9:55 am.  As on Wednesday, most of the initial 45 minutes of questioning by Democrats will be done by the Democratic counsel on the House Intelligence Committee.

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LIVE: Day Two of Impeachment hearings against President Trump

9:55 am.  Not only is Yovanovitch talking about why she was ousted, but she is also sticking up for fellow diplomats - and basically skewering Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for not standing up for those in the Foreign Service.

9:45 am.  Yovanovitch repeatedly says she did nothing wrong as U.S. Ambassador in Ukraine.  And she repeatedly returns to the efforts of Rudy Giuliani to target her.  “I do not understand Mr. Giuliani's motives for attacking me.”  Yovanovitch also said she had done nothing to undermine President Trump.  “The Obama Administration did not ask me to help the Clinton campaign or harm the Trump campaign.”

9:37 am.  Yovanovitch details her diplomatic career.  She joined the Foreign Service during the Reagan Administration.  Like the two witnesses on Wednesday, she stresses the importance of serving the U.S. overseas, no matter who is President, as Yovanovitch said she had no 'agenda' as U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine.

9:28 am.  Schiff follows Nunes by calling on President Trump to release documents withheld from investigators.  Also asks the White House to reveal why - after this April call - Vice President Pence was not sent to attend the inauguration of the new Ukraine leader.

9:25 am.  Nunes is now reading from a rough transcript of the first phone call between President Trump and the leader of Ukraine in April.

9:20 am.  The top Republican on the Intelligence Committee, Rep. Devin Nunes R-CA, starts his statement with another blistering attack on the impeachment investigation, arguing Democrats are engaged in an effort to 'fulfill their Watergate fantasies.'

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LIVE: Day Two of Impeachment hearings against President Trump

9:15 am.  Democrats begin by going after Rudy Giuliani, asking why the President's lawyer had coordinated a concerted campaign to undermine the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine.

"Why did Rudy Giuliani want her gone?" asked Rep. Adam Schiff D-CA.

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LIVE: Day Two of Impeachment hearings against President Trump

9:07 am.  The hearing is underway.

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LIVE: Day Two of Impeachment hearings against President Trump

8:55 am.  Normally, I would have a perfect view of the dais and witness table.  But the Intelligence Committee has brought in giant television screens to be used for visuals during the hearing.  And they planted one between me and the lawmakers on the panel.  So, this is my view.

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LIVE: Day Two of Impeachment hearings against President Trump

8:45 am.  Lots of familiar faces are here in terms of my colleagues, as we work shoulder-to-shoulder in the hallways of the Capitol.  There are a series of press tables in the room behind the witness table.  Right across from me, Manu Raju of CNN and Chad Pergram of Fox News.

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LIVE: Day Two of Impeachment hearings against President Trump

8:35 am.  Most of you would not know the former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine if she were sitting next to you.  And that was her life until late 2018 and 2019, when something changed.  She says it was a campaign run against her by President Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani - and State Department officials agree.

8:25 am.  Most of the electronics in this room are set out by C-SPAN, which is running the “pool” television coverage.  I'm seated in an area by some of the C-SPAN technical personnel, along with the still photographers, who have a very high tech operation to take photos, quickly edit, them, and then send them out immediately across the world.

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LIVE: Day Two of Impeachment hearings against President Trump

8:15 am.  I am in the room along with other reporters, producers, still photographers, and press people.  There is a lot of elbowing going on as photographers try to get the best shot of the witness arriving for testimony.

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LIVE: Day Two of Impeachment hearings against President Trump

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  • A North Alabama police officer said he was placed on administrative leave following complaints about two social media posts, including one that mocks the late George Floyd. Ross Greenwood, an officer with the Mentone Police Department, said he was put on leave pending the outcome of a termination hearing, AL.com reported. Greenwood said he was not told who complained about his posts, but Mentone Mayor Rob Hammond confirmed the administrative leave to the Fort Payne Times-Journal. Greenwood said he shared two posts that received complaints. One, posted June 14, noted that the “Treasury Department will honor George Floyd by placing his portrait on the $20 counterfeit bill.” The second post, made on June 19 read, “Breaking News: Quaker Oats officially changes name to Shaquille O’atmeal.” Floyd is the Minneapolis man who died May 25 after a police officer put his knee into the man’s neck for nearly nine minutes. Greenwood said he left the posts on his Facebook page because he wanted to be transparent, the Times-Journal reported. He said he does not believe he did anything wrong, and said he “absolutely” enforces the law equally. Hammond said Mentone Police Chief Gene McKee met with town attorney Pat Tate to discuss his investigation, the Times-Journal reported. “It is the Town’s contention that these postings are a violation of the Mentone Police Department’s code of conduct,” Hammond told the newspaper, adding a termination hearing would be held “within the next 10 days.” Greenwood, who has been with the Mentone Police Department, previously was the chief of police in nearby Sylvania. “In my opinion, (Floyd) was a criminal. He’s sure made a name for himself,” Greenwood told the Times-Journal, adding he was unhappy with the news of several products changing their branding because they play off racial stereotypes. “A lot of this has gotten way out of hand,” Greenwood told the newspaper. “What’s the standard of what we can share on social media? I’ve never targeted or threatened to kill anyone.” “If some radical Christian shot up a church, I’d share a story about that as much as I would if a radical Muslim did,” Greenwood told the Times-Journal. “I’m prejudiced against people who do stupid things. I can’t help what race you are when you mess up. I do post a lot of stuff about minorities and may post some stuff that looks racist, but there’s got to be some standard. Innocent people are getting killed.” Greenwood said he had asked for a copy of the police department’s social media policy but never received it, AL.com reported. He also said he never signed any papers documenting that he agreed to any department social media policy. “There’s something on Facebook that’s going to offend somebody,” Greenwood told AL.com. “There’s posts going around of police officers getting their throats cut. That offends me. But I don’t get out of shape. I just think, ‘Wow, that’s pretty rough.’”
  • A Black family has sued Hilton and a North Carolina Hampton Inn franchisee, alleging discrimination after a white clerk called police regarding a billing dispute. Dolores and Alvin Corbett, along with their two teenagers, checked in to The Hampton Inn & Suites on Nov. 23, 2018, in Wilson, North Carolina, along with some extended family. According to a news release provided by attorney Jason Kafoury, the family was there to “celebrate the life” of Alvin Corbett’s mother, Fannie Corbett, who died in 2019 and was declared a “civil rights pioneer” in North Carolina, The News & Observer reported. The following morning, the suit alleges, the unidentified clerk loudly and repeatedly told Dolores Corbett that her credit card had been declined. Corbett tried to explain that she had prepaid for the $145-per-night room using her Hilton Honors account points, but when she asked to speak to a supervisor, the clerk shouted, “Get off my property” and alerted police. Dolores Corbett told USA Today the humiliation and degradation suffered warranted the lawsuit, but the clerk’s summoning of police “put our family in imminent danger.” The family checked out immediately and told officers they had done nothing wrong when they arrived. And even though the clerk conceded to the responding officers that the billing question had been resolved, the suit alleges the officers escorted the Corbett family from the premises and circles their car in a restaurant parking lot while they waited for their extended family to join them, USA Today reported. Meanwhile, the Corbetts’ attorneys shared with the publication an email from the hotel’s general manager, Phil Ronaghan, dated one day after the 2018 incident, offering his “sincerest apologies” and calling the clerk’s actions “unprofessional and unwarranted.” Ronaghan also said in the email the unnamed clerk told them she called police because she felt threatened, but he did not feel the situation rose to “anywhere near that level of dispute” and noted that she had been reassigned pending an internal review of the incident, USA Today reported. In response, Hilton spokesman Nigel Glennie told the newspaper, “Hilton’s records show that our guest assistance team worked to resolve this complaint in 2018. We believe that our Hilton team engaged with sensitivity to understand, listen and address concerns about the guest’s experience.” According to The News & Observer, the suit seeks damages to compensate for the plaintiffs’ “economic loss, humiliation, embarrassment and emotional distress” as well as punitive damages that would punish the defendants’ alleged “willful, wanton, and reckless conduct” to prevent similar incidents in the future.
  • Deputies in an Oregon county were in the right place at the right time this week, saving two lives in the same spot on two different days. Shortly after 11 p.m. on Monday, Washington County deputies received a call that a 16-year-old girl was at the top of a parking structure across the street from the Sheriff’s Office in HIllsboro, KATU-TV reported. Deputies were able to coax the girl, who was allegedly preparing to jump, away from the outside railing, the television station reported. “There’s a lot of grief associated with the loss of normalcy with what youth are doing right now and the connections to their peers,” Emily Moser, director of the non-profit YouthLine, told KGW. Moser’s job has taught her a lot about how teens are trying to make sense of a world that doesn’t make much sense right now. “The uncertainty that they’re feeling is very much in the here and now,” she said. On Tuesday, deputies responded to the same area, as a woman in her 30s was standing on the top of the parking structure, KGW reported. “I received a phone call from a coworker who was driving home and she told me there was a subject on the top level of a local structure that was outside the barrier,” Commander Caprice Massey told the television station. When Massey arrived, she tried to engage with the woman by talking to her. “She starting signing in American Sign Language and she preferred to communicate that way, and as luck has it, I know sign language,” Massey told KGW. Massey was able to talk the woman back over the barrier without saying a word. “I asked the young lady if she would sit with me and we sat pretty close to each other,” Massey told KGW. “Just take the time to check in with people and when you ask ‘How are you?’ wait for the answer.”
  • Two Oklahoma police officers have been charged with second-degree murder nearly one year after the death of a naked Wilson man last Fourth of July weekend. According to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, Jared Lakey, 28, died July 6, 2019, after officers Joshua Taylor and Brandon Dingman discharged their stun guns on him more than 50 times, WXII reported. The incident occurred just before midnight on the Fourth of July after Taylor, 25, and Dingman, 34, responded to a call of a naked man running down a Wilson street screaming. “The two Wilson police officers were trying to take Lakey into custody, and he was not cooperating. He was not complying with their requests,” OSBI public information officer Brook Arbeitman said, according to the arrest affidavit. According to court documents, an OSBI agent reviewed dash and body camera footage of the arrest, The Ardmoreite reported. “The footage reveals numerous instances of both officers using their X26P tasers to send electrical shocks through (the victim’s) body in an apparent attempt to persuade him to put his hands behind his back as he lay on the ground,” the agent stated in an affidavit. Court documents indicate Dingman discharged his stun gun 23 times for a total of 114 seconds over the course of nine minutes, while Taylor deployed his stun gun 30 times for a total of 122 seconds. Despite sustaining nearly four minutes of electrical jolts, court documents state Lakey never struck, grabbed or made any aggressive attempts toward either officer during the nine-minute confrontation, WXII reported. The affidavit also states neither officer attempted to restrain Lakey during those nine minutes, despite several opportunities and the fact that Lakey was not fully conscious. “(The victim) is tased numerous times while merely lying naked in the ditch, presumably for not rolling onto his stomach and complying with the officers’ commands to ‘Put your hands behind your back’,” the affidavit states. Court records state Lakey died of “complications of myocardial infarction (clinical) in the setting of cardiomegaly and critical coronary atherosclerosis and law enforcement use of electrical weapon and restraint,” The Ardmoreite reported. The arrest warrants for Dingman and Taylor were issued Wednesday, and both officers surrendered to the Carter County Sheriff’s Office Thursday morning, WXII reported. Both men face 10 years to life in prison if convicted, and both were granted $250,000 bond.
  • What is more important -- global health policy, or where to display a unicorn drawing? That was the pointed issue confronting a BBC broadcaster on Monday, who was interviewing Clare Wenham, an assistant professor at the London School of Economics. Of course, the unicorn won out Wenham, speaking virtually with Christian Fraser, was about to answer a question about the United Kingdom’s response to the coronavirus pandemic when her daughter, Scarlett, entered the picture, The New York Times reported. The young girl can be seen walking back and forth in the room, trying to decide where to put her drawing. When Wenham finished her answer, Fraser asked, “What is your daughter called?” “She’s called Scarlett,” Wenham said. “Scarlett, I think it looks better on the lower shelf,” Fraser said. “And it’s a lovely unicorn.” As Fraser started to ask another question, Scarlett interrupted. “Say, what’s his name?” the child asked. “What’s his name, Mummy?” Fraser had a good laugh and quipped, “This is the most informative interview I’ve done all day.” Wenham told the BBC it was ironic that her interview had been crashed. She said she recently wrote an article for the British Medical Journal on that topic. Wenham conceded, however, that she never thought that scenario would happen to her. Reaction was mostly positive, with Twitter users complimenting both Wenham and Fraser. “Wonderful to see the realities of homeworking for parents,” Heather de Gruyther wrote. “And thank you to the presenter for making it OK and for talking to the child too.” The interview was similar to a 2017 clip that went viral when Robert Kelly, a political-science professor at Pusan National University in South Korea, was interrupted by his children and wife during his interview with the BBC, the Times reported.
  • A naked man was rescued from a sewer in downtown Duluth on Thursday, officials said. Officials in the northern Minnesota city said first responders pulled the man to safety around 5:10 p.m., KBJR reported. It was not clear why the man was naked, or why he was in the sewer. The rescue comes after authorities received a report about a man who had entered a manhole Wednesday afternoon, the television station reported. The man’s clothes were found near the manhole, city officials said. After ending their search Wednesday, first responders returned Thursday after receiving a report about a man yelling for help from under a manhole cover, the Duluth News Tribune reported. Firefighters lifted the manhole and found a man “visibly in distress,” according to a news release from the city of Duluth. Firefighters placed a ladder down the manhole. The man, who has not been identified, was able to climb out, the News Tribune reported. He was taken to an area hospital, where he was treated for hypothermia, the newspaper reported.