Published: Sat, November 16, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Ousted ambassador to testify in Trump impeachment probe

Ousted ambassador to testify in Trump impeachment probe

Asked why Trump's conduct amounted to bribery Thursday, Pelosi said, "The bribe is to grant or withhold military assistance in return for a public statement of a fake investigation into the elections". Pelosi said, "It's perfectly wrong".

Democrats are looking into whether the Republican president abused his power by withholding $391 million in United States security aid to Ukraine as leverage to pressure Kyiv to conduct two investigations that would benefit him politically.

Trump has denied any wrongdoing.

The House Intelligence Committee will reconvene Friday for a second public hearing featuring Marie Yovanovitch, the former USA ambassador to Ukraine who was recalled to Washington in May following a smear campaign pushed by Giuliani and other Trump allies.

When is the first hearing?

At a rally in Louisiana just hours before Yovanovitch's testimony, Trump spoke in rare personal terms about his own impeachment journey.

Republicans control the Senate and have shown little support for Mr Trump's removal. In her closed-door testimony, she said that the comment was unclear, though when she was asked if she felt "threatened" by the president, she said yes.

The speaker's explicit allegation of bribery, a misdeed identified in the Constitution as an impeachable offence, was significant. More recently, multiple Democrats have embraced bribery as a more direct summation of Trump's alleged conduct. Others said they could be part of an article of impeachment.

California Congressman Devin Nunes described Ms. Yovanovitch's firing as "employment disagreements" rather than grounds for impeachment.

Democrats are examining whether Mr. Trump put pressure on Ukraine to investigate former vice-president Joe Biden and his family, along with a widely rejected theory that Ukraine had meddled in the 2016 USA presidential election, in exchange for a White House meeting and almost US$400-million in security assistance. Trump also asked Zelenskiy to investigate a debunked conspiracy theory embraced by some Trump allies that Ukraine, not Russian Federation, interfered in the 2016 U.S. election. He wanted an investigation of Democrats and 2020 rival Joe Biden.

Pelosi compared Trump's actions with former President Richard Nixon's conduct in the Watergate corruption scandal that led him in 1974 to become the only USA president to resign.

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Said Schiff, "Well, I want to let you know, Ambassador, that some of us here take witness intimidation very, very seriously".

House impeachment investigators met in private Saturday with a White House budget official as the historic inquiry produces new testimony offering direct insight of President Donald Trump's actions toward Ukraine.

Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch appeared at Democrats' second open impeachment hearing to discuss her career and the circumstances under which her posting to Kyiv was prematurely halted earlier this year.

An estimated 13.8 million viewers across 10 broadcast and cable television networks watched the first day of proceedings, according to Nielsen ratings data.

The hearing comes the same week that two other diplomats-George Kent and William Taylor-testified that they believed Giuliani tried to dig up dirt on Biden and his son, Hunter. Many Republicans have maintained that Trump's actions toward Ukraine were not impeachable, but may have been inappropriate.

Yovanovitch, a State Department employee for 33 years who also led USA embassies in Kyrgyzstan and Armenia, is well known in diplomatic circles for her measured demeanor and diligence in representing both Republican and Democratic administrations, according to former colleagues. As if that personal affront weren't enough, as a career State official she has also said that the president has "attacked and hollowed out from within" the department.

Trump was convinced that Yovanovitch was a rogue actor who held a political bias against him, according to a rough transcript of the July 25 call between the president and Zelenskiy. "It was not we, the Ukrainian officials [who were told this]", he said, adding that he has not had contact with Sondland as an official. Holmes was at dinner with Gordon Sondland, when the Ambassador to the European Union called up Trump.

Nunes mocked Democrats' desire to "fulfill their Watergate fantasies" and called the first hearing, on Wednesday, a "farce" based on hearsay and "rumors".

Trump has repeatedly disparaged Yovanovitch, including on his call with Zelensky.

The staffer cited by Taylor is David Holmes, a Taylor aide who has been subpoenaed to testify in the inquiry on Friday behind closed doors, said a person familiar with the issue.

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