Former Ambassador To Testify On Day Two Of Impeachment Hearings
Day two of Congressional impeachment hearings will be marked by the testimony of the former American Ambassador to Ukraine.
The public side of the impeachment inquiry into President Trump resumes this morning with an appearance by the former American Ambassador to Ukraine, who is expected to testify about how she was forced out of her position by a cabal of people close to the President led by his private attorney Rudy Giuliani:
During the pivotal phone call that sparked the House impeachment inquiry, President Trump made a reference to gender as he smeared former Ukraine ambassador Marie Yovanovitch.
“The former ambassador from the United States, the woman, was bad news,” Trump told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on July 25.
Trump then made an ominous prediction as he pressured Zelensky for investigations of his political rivals. “She’s going to go through some things,” he said of the ambassador.
As a leading female diplomat, a political target of the president’s allies and a figure at the center of the Ukraine drama, Yovanovitch has crucial knowledge to impart when she testifies at Friday’s impeachment hearing. She also enters the spotlight as the latest woman who has refused to acquiesce to Trump in the face of personal and gender-specific attacks.
The story of Yovanovitch’s removal as Ukraine ambassador reflects some of the most complicated gender and political dynamics of Trump’s presidency. Now the impeachment probe is magnifying those dynamics as the first woman to publicly testify prepares to confront Trump’s fiercest congressional defenders, nearly all men, about a campaign by other male allies of the president to force her from her post. The symbolism of that conflict underscores the significance of the historic probe, which was initiated by the female speaker of the House — Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) — and made possible by female voters who helped deliver the House to Democrats in the last election.
“Seeing someone like Masha Yovanovitch come forward is going to be an extremely difficult moment for Trump,” said Nancy McEldowney, a former ambassador to Bulgaria who served as director of the Foreign Service Institute and now teaches at Georgetown University, where Yovanovitch is a senior fellow.
“What I suspect the world will see when she walks into that hearing room is an individual who is not tall physically but really is a towering figure of integrity, inner strength and unswerving devotion to public service and telling the truth,” McEldowney said.
In what has emerged as a key episode for impeachment investigators, Yovanovitch was recalled early to Washington from the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv in May after facing an onslaught of attacks from right-wing media. With encouragement from Trump’s personal attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani — but with no evidence — conspiracy theorists painted her as an enemy of the president who used her power to covertly undermine him and assist Democrats.
In an Oct. 11 deposition on Capitol Hill, Yovanovitch said she was told that the decision “was coming from President Trump” and that if she was not “physically out of Ukraine, that there would be, you know, some sort of public either tweet or something else from the White House” against her.
“I was upset,” she told lawmakers that day. “I wanted an explanation because this is rather unusual.”
Because she was dismissed from her position in April, Yovanovitch was not on the phone call that took place on July 25th which was the start of the ongoing investigation, it’s unlikely that we’ll get any real insight into that side of the impeachment investigation. It is possible, though, that we will learn something about an earlier phone call between President Trump and President Zelensky that took place shortly after Zelensky was elected in April. Though there have been no details of that call released as of yet, there have been some suggestions that Trump brought up an investigation of Joe and Hunter Biden up at that time as well as urging him to work through Giuliani and his associates rather than normal diplomatic channels.
Beyond that, today’s hearing is likely to be highly instructive in two respects. First, it is likely to show the extent to which the President was seeking to take responsibility for the relationship between the United States and Ukraine out of normal diplomatic channels and hand it over to Giuliani, who was traveling back and forth to Kyiv and other cities in Europe seeking support for the idea of investigating the former Vice-President and his son as well as the discredited conspiracy theory that it was Ukraine, not Russia, that was behind the interference in the 2016 election. Second, it is likely to show the manner in which the President is willing to treat even esteemed career diplomats like Yovanovitch when he believes they are not loyal to him. In other words, today’s testimony will most likely not contain any blockbuster information but it will be another piece of the puzzle leading toward impeachment.
As with Wednesday’s hearing, today’s hearings, which begin an hour earlier at 9:00 a.m., will be broadcast on all of the cable news networks as well as C-Span. Additionally, it’s likely to be available on a number of streaming services as well as via live streams that will be available on the home pages of news outlets like The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Politico.
We’ll likely have a wrap-up post on today’s hearings either later today or tomorrow morning depending on how long the day lasts. In the meantime, feel free to turn the comment thread here, as well as today’s Open Forum, into an open thread on the hearing itself.