The Latest: Yovanovitch describes crisis in State Department

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump and House impeachment hearings (all times local):

9:45 a.m.

Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovich has told Congress that attacks from corrupt interests have created a crisis at the State Dept.

Yovanovich is testifying openly before the House Intelligence Committee in its impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.

She told lawmakers that she was the victim of “a campaign of disinformation” that used “unofficial back channels” leading to her removal from Ukraine. She says it “continues to amaze” her that Americans partnered with “Ukrainians who preferred to play by the old corrupt rules” in pushing for her removal.

Yovanovich is also sounding alarm that senior State Department officials did not defend her from attacks from the president’s allies, including former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. She is telling lawmakers about a “crisis in the State Department.”

She says: “The State Department is being hollowed out from within at a competitive and complex time on the world stage.”


9:35 a.m.

The top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee has read aloud a memo circulated by the White House that summarizes the first conversation between President Donald Trump and his newly elected Ukrainian counterpart.

The first conversation took place in April after the election of Volodymyr Zelenskiy. It consists largely of pleasantries and words of congratulations.

The White House made a record of the conversation public at the start of the House impeachment hearing on Friday.

Rep. Devin Nunes, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, read the document aloud to suggest that there was nothing untoward in the conversation.

Rep. Adam Schiff, the committee chairman, said Trump should also “release the thousands of other records that he has instructed the State Department not to release.”


9:30 a.m.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff says former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch was “smeared and cast aside” by President Donald Trump because she was considered an obstacle to his personal and political agenda.

Opening the second public House impeachment hearing, Schiff said the question isn’t whether Trump could recall Yovanovitch but “why would he want to?”

Yovanovitch testified behind closed doors last month that she was told to “watch her back” before she was ousted in May as Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani led a shadow foreign policy.

Schiff said pushback at the State Department failed when it became clear that Trump wanted her gone.

Republican Rep. Devin Nunes said the hearings were “spectacles” for Democrats to “advance their operation to topple a duly elected president.”


9 a.m.

The House has opened a second day of Trump impeachment hearings with Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine who was suddenly recalled back to the U.S. by President Donald Trump.

Yovanovitch is expected to testify about her ouster, which another diplomat has called a “smear” campaign against her by Trump allies.

The live public hearings by the House Intelligence Committee are being held to determine whether Trump should be removed from office over his actions toward Ukraine.

The investigation centers on Trump’s July 25 phone call when he asked the new Ukraine president for a favor — to investigate Democrats and potential 2020 rival Joe Biden — as the White House was withholding military aid to the Eastern European nation.

Yovanovitch and others have described Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer, as leading what one called an “irregular channel” outside the diplomatic mainstream of U.S.-Ukraine relations.


8:35 a.m.

The former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine has arrived on Capitol Hill to testify in the Trump impeachment inquiry.

Marie Yovanovitch is the witness for the second day of public hearings. She’s expected to tell lawmakers about her sudden ouster as President Donald Trump recalled the career ambassador back to the United States.

Other diplomats testifying in the investigation have defended Yovanovitch, saying she was the target of “smear” campaign by the president’s allies. She has served both Democratic and Republican presidents.

The rare impeachment inquiry is focused on Trump’s actions toward Ukraine. Democrats say it amounts to bribery, as the president withheld military aid to Ukraine while he pushed the country to investigate rival Democrats, including Joe Biden.

Trump calls the probe a hoax and says he did nothing wrong.


12:15 a.m.

The House will hear from a singular witness Friday in the Trump impeachment hearings: Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine who was targeted by the president’s allies in a “smear” campaign now central to the probe.

The career diplomat, who served both Republican and Democratic presidents, is expected to relay her striking story of being suddenly recalled by Donald Trump and told to “watch my back.” It was all part of a swiftly developing series of events that sounded alarms about the White House’s shadow foreign policy.

Friday is the second day of public hearings to consider removing America’s 45th president. Democrats and Republicans are hardening their messages to voters as they try to sway voter opinion amid a deeply polarized public.

The House will hear from a singular witness Friday in the Trump impeachment hearings: Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine who was targeted by the president’s allies in a “smear” campaign now central to the inquiry.

Categories: National News