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.
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.
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.
Meanwhile, David Holmes – the Taylor aide who overheard a conversation between Trump and Sondland on July 26th– has arrived at the Capitol for his closed-door deposition.— Lauren Fox (@FoxReports) November 15, 2019
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.
Yovanovitch talking about advice she got from Gordon Sondland who told her to "go big or go home", send out a tweet and praise the President. Yovanovitch said it wasn't advice she could really follow because it seemed too political to her.— Lauren Fox (@FoxReports) November 15, 2019
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."
Marie Yovanovitch: "While I obviously don't dispute that the President has the right to withdraw an ambassador at any time for any reason, but what I do wonder is why it was necessary to smear my reputation also?" https://t.co/rcDjkZKehm pic.twitter.com/JzgztGRpjF— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) November 15, 2019
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.
As someone who worked with Castor for five years, I’ll say and I think Democratic staff would back this up, he is extremely well regarded professionally and very effective in depositions. The issue here is what works on paper doesn’t translate to TV as they are finding out. https://t.co/vHgvTFasY7— Kurt Bardella (@kurtbardella) November 15, 2019
GOP counsel: "In your deposition, you acknowledged that the president has longstanding concerns about corruption in Ukraine. Is that true?"— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) November 15, 2019
Former U.S. Amb to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch: "That's what he says." https://t.co/5l2kdnisNV pic.twitter.com/LL8t9cixsQ
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.
Castor: anything you could have done differently?— Laura Rozen (@lrozen) November 15, 2019
Yovanovitch:...learned from Depsec sullivan Sec. Pompeo was well aware of the campaign, going back to summer 2018;
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.
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.
So they now convict Roger Stone of lying and want to jail him for many years to come. Well, what about Crooked Hillary, Comey, Strzok, Page, McCabe, Brennan, Clapper, Shifty Schiff, Ohr & Nellie, Steele & all of the others, including even Mueller himself? Didn’t they lie?....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 15, 2019
12:00 pm. Stone guilty of lying to Congress, obstruction of justice and more.
BREAKING: Roger Stone has been found guilty of witness tampering and lying to Congress related to his knowledge of WikiLeaks' email releases in the 2016 presidential campaign. https://t.co/rK00oreptY— Matt Viser (@mviser) November 15, 2019
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.
count 7, witness tampering, GUILTY— Jacqueline Thomsen (@jacq_thomsen) November 15, 2019
Stone is GUILTY on all charges
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.
Bret Baier: "This whole hearing turned on a dime when Trump tweeted about her real time ... that enabled Schiff to then characterize that tweet as intimidating the witness or tampering with the witness, which is a crime. Adding essentially an article of impeachment real time." pic.twitter.com/OGZ0BPPOtD— Lis Power (@LisPower1) November 15, 2019
11:40 am. Critics of the President see his tweets this morning about Yovanovitch as yet another marker for impeachment efforts in the House.
Expect witness tampering to be an article of impeachment. https://t.co/HtcXcbVgms— Justin Amash (@justinamash) November 15, 2019
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.
President Obama gave Ukraine blankets. President Trump gave Ukraine missiles. https://t.co/BD4AFTUG6h— Oversight Committee Republicans (@GOPoversight) November 15, 2019
11:15 am. Don't expect an avalanche of negative reaction from the GOP over today's tweets from the President.
I talked to Jim Jordan about Trump’s tweet attacking Yovanovitch: pic.twitter.com/ybcEChXa6U— Haley Byrd (@byrdinator) November 15, 2019
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.
Interesting: on FOX just now, Bret Baier comes down very hard on Trump's real-time Tweet, noting that intimidating a witness "is a crime" and says GOP members will have to spend a lot of time trying to "clean this up."— Jeff Greenfield (@greenfield64) November 15, 2019
10:50 am. The President's tweets are quickly frowned on by one member of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Elise Stefanik R-NY.
Rep. Elise Stefanik, GOP Intel Committee member, to @byrdinator: “I disagree with the tweet. I think Ambassador Yovanovitch is a public servant, like many of our public servants in the foreign service."— Phil Mattingly (@Phil_Mattingly) November 15, 2019
10:45 am. The President's tweets are getting a lot of attention. This from Fox News.
That was a turning point in this hearing so far. She was already a sympathetic witness & the President’s tweet ripping her allowed Schiff to point it out real time characterizing it as witness tampering or intimidation -adding an article of impeachment real-time. https://t.co/HSCkGMIqmH— Bret Baier (@BretBaier) November 15, 2019
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.”
.@RepAdamSchiff reads President Trump tweets about Marie Yovanovitch.— CSPAN (@cspan) November 15, 2019
Marie Yovanovitch: "It's very intimidating."
Schiff: "Some us here take witness intimidation very very seriously.
Watch LIVE here: https://t.co/hfUPMqA2R9 pic.twitter.com/oMq7uLGogQ
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.
Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad. She started off in Somalia, how did that go? Then fast forward to Ukraine, where the new Ukrainian President spoke unfavorably about her in my second phone call with him. It is a U.S. President’s absolute right to appoint ambassadors.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 15, 2019
....They call it “serving at the pleasure of the President.” The U.S. now has a very strong and powerful foreign policy, much different than proceeding administrations. It is called, quite simply, America First! With all of that, however, I have done FAR more for Ukraine than O.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 15, 2019
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.
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.
Beyond the question of impeachment, Marie Yovanovitch's testimony is savage for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo: "The State Department is being hollowed out from— Susan Davis (@DaviSusan) November 15, 2019
within at a competitive and complex time on the world stage."
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.
.@RepAdamSchiff: "I'm grateful the president has released the call record. I would now ask the president to release the thousands of other records that he has instructed the State Department not to release." pic.twitter.com/nrDbR5B7Td— CSPAN (@cspan) November 15, 2019
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.
Nunes now reading from the rough transcript of the first phone call between President Trump and the leader of Ukraine in April (just released by the White House). pic.twitter.com/mGkif6unad— Jamie Dupree (@jamiedupree) November 15, 2019
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.'
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.
9:07 am. The hearing is underway.
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.
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.
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.
Testimony today is from Marie Yovanovitch, a veteran diplomat who was ousted earlier this year as US Ambassador to Ukraine - after what State Department officials say was a 'campaign of slander' pressed by Rudy Giuliani https://t.co/vXnJVskzzE— Jamie Dupree (@jamiedupree) November 15, 2019
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.
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.