Six memorable moments from Ex-Ukraine ambassador Yovanovitch’s public testimony
Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch on Friday became the third witness to testify publicly in the House’s impeachment inquiry into President Trump.
She described her feelings about her removal from the post and fielded questions about whether Trump had the right to recall her. During the marathon session she also responded to Trump’s claims about her and spoke about the importance of Ukraine to U.S. foreign policy.
At several points there were flare-ups between House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and GOP members of the panel.
Here are six of the most memorable moments from her testimony:
Schiff reads Trump tweets to Yovanovitch
During Yovanovitch’s testimony, Trump tweeted that “Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad,” and falsely claimed that it was Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky who brought up Yovanovitch to criticize her performance during their July 25 phone call.
Schiff read out the tweets to Yovanovitch and asked her if she felt they were meant to intimidate.
“It’s very intimidating,” Yovanovitch responded. “I can’t speak to what the president is trying to do, but I think the effect is to be intimidating.”
Yovanovitch added, responding to Trump’s tweet, “I don’t think I have such powers, not in Mogadishu, Somalia, and not in other places. I actually think that where I have served over the years, I and others have demonstrably made things better, for the U.S. as well as for the countries that I’ve served in.”
Schiff suggested the tweets amounted to witness intimidation.
“I want to let you know, ambassador, that some of us here take witness intimidation very, very seriously,” he said.
Yovanovitch says the ‘color drained from my face’ when she learned of mention in call
Yovanovitch described the moment she was shown the White House summary of the July 25 call between Trump and Zelensky, during which Trump called her “bad news” and said she “was going to go through some things.”
“I was shocked, absolutely shocked, and devastated frankly,” she told the Democratic counsel. “I was shocked and devastated that I would feature in a phone call between two heads of state in such a manner, where President Trump said that I was ‘bad news’ to another head of state.”
“A person who saw me reading the transcript said that the color drained from my face, I think I even had a physical reaction,” she added. “Even now words kind of fail me.”
Jordan tells Schiff Republican ‘indulgence’ of him wore out a long time ago
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), a fierce Trump defender who was transferred to the Intelligence Committee specifically for the impeachment hearings, had a tense exchange when Schiff first granted him extra time to restate a question to Yovanovitch regarding Ukrainian opposition to Trump, then told him to wrap up what he was saying.
“I have indulged you with extra time, but my indulgence is wearing out, is there a question here?” Schiff said to Jordan.
“Our indulgence with you wore out a long time ago Mr. Chairman, I’ll tell you that,” Jordan responded, prompting scattered gasps. Schiff threatened to gavel Jordan down unless he got to the point of his question.
Jordan finished asking his question and began another one before Schiff told Jordan his time had expired.
Yovanovitch questions necessity of ‘smear campaign’
Yovanovitch, who said she had been the target of a smear campaign that included Trump, said that while she understood Trump’s authority to remove her as an ambassador, she did not understand the need for attacks on her reputation.
“I obviously don’t dispute that the president has the right to withdraw an ambassador at any time for any reason but I do wonder is why it was necessary to smear my reputation also,” Yovanovitch told Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio), who had noted that diplomats serve at the pleasure of the president.
Republicans frequently returned to the theme of Trump’s authority to appoint or remove any ambassador at any time while Democrats throughout the hearing countered that his treatment of Yovanovitch nonetheless went beyond what was appropriate.
Yovanovitch says her departure adversely affected morale at State
Yovanovitch said her firing took a toll on State Department morale in response to questions from Schiff about attacks on her ahead of her ouster.
“It’s been I think a big hit for morale, both at U.S. Embassy Kyiv, but also more broadly at the State Department,” Yovanovitch said.
Schiff, in response, asked “if it was fair to say that other ambassadors and others of lesser rank that serve the United States and embassies around the world might look at this and think, if I take on corrupt people in these countries, this could happen to me?”
Yovanovitch responded that she thought this was “a fair statement, yes.”
Turner attempts to cut off Yovanovitch answer on Ukraine
Rep. Michael Turner (R-Ohio) attempted to cut off an answer by Yovanovitch on Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland’s responsibilities, telling her she was “done.”
After Turner asked whether Ukraine was in Sondland’s “portfolio,” Yovanovitch said she would “agree.” Turner attempted to pivot to another question but Schiff told Yovanovitch to “finish your answer.”
Turned responded “not on my time” and told Yovanovitch “you’re done.”
Schiff eventually intervened and allowed Yovanovitch to finish her answer.
“I would say that all EU ambassadors deal with other countries including aspiring countries, but it is unusual to name the U.S. ambassador to the EU to be responsible for all aspects of Ukraine,” she finally said.
“I’ll take your initial answer, it’s still in his portfolio, which was my question,” Turner responded.