Envoy cites ‘concerted campaign’ to oust her: Impeachment update
House Democrats are interviewing Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, in a private deposition Friday, as part of their impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump. The three committees leading the probe are schedule to hear from Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, on Oct. 17.
Here are the latest developments:
Envoy Cites Concerted Campaign’ to Oust Her (12:22 p.m.)
Yovanovitch said in her opening statement that she was told there was a “concerted campaign” against her and that the State Department had been “under pressure” from Trump to remove her as ambassador to Ukraine.
She said in her prepared remarks that she was not disloyal to Trump.
“I have heard the allegation in the media that I supposedly told the embassy team to ignore the president’s orders since he was going to be impeached,’” she said in the statement. “That allegation is false.”
She said she had never been asked by President Barack Obama’s administration to help Hillary Clinton’s campaign or harm the Trump campaign.
Yovanovitch said she was “incredulous” that she was removed “based, as best as I can tell, on unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives.”
“Today, we see the State Department attacked and hollowed out from within,” Yovanovitch’s statement said. “State Department leadership, with Congress, needs to take action now to defend this great institution, and its thousands of loyal and effective employees.”
Former Envoy Received Friendly’ Subpoena (11:37 a.m.)
Yovanovitch was issued a “friendly subpoena” prior to her closed-door testimony Friday, according to a House official.
Yovanovitch, who remains a State Department employee, had been scheduled to testify for more than a week. But on Tuesday, the White House said the administration will not cooperate with the congressional impeachment probe focusing on Trump’s interactions with Ukraine.
The committee’s response, in consultation with Yovanovitch’s lawyers, was to issue the subpoena late Thursday or Friday morning, the official said. A so-called friendly subpoena can be used when an attorney and or witness expressly agrees in writing to provide the information or testimony sought in return for the formality of a subpoena to protectively reflect that the response is being legally compelled.
Depositions under subpoena are also subject to more stringent House rules on the public release of information. The testimony from former U.S. Special Envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker, on the other hand, was taken in a transcribed interview.
Former Ukraine Ambassador Arrives to Testify (10:15 a.m.)
Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, arrived on Capitol Hill to give a private deposition to three House committees leading the impeachment inquiry.
Yovanovitch was recalled from Ukraine this year after Trump allies questioned her work, and she remains a member of the foreign service. It’s unclear if she was cleared by the State Department to testify Friday.
She did not speak to reporters before entering the offices where the Foreign Affairs, Intelligence and Oversight panels expect to question her about the interactions of Trump and his allies with Ukrainian officials.
EU Envoy Sondland to Testify Oct. 17 (10:10 a.m.)
Gordon Sondland, Trump’s ambassador to the European Union, will testify Oct. 17 to House impeachment investigators despite the State Department’s “current direction not to testify,” his lawyers said.
Sondland initially had been scheduled to testify on Tuesday to the Foreign Affairs, Intelligence and Oversight and Reform committees, but the State Department blocked him from appearing.
Sondland, a hotel executive who donated $1 million to Trump’s inaugural committee, was subpoenaed by the panels on Wednesday.
“Notwithstanding the State Department’s current direction to not testify, Ambassador Sondland will honor the Committees’ subpoena, and he looks forward to testifying on Thursday,” attorneys Robert Luskin and Kwame Manley said in an emailed statement.
As for documents sought by the three committees, they said, Sondland “does not control the disposition of his documents. By federal law and regulation, the State Department has sole authority to produce such documents, and Ambassador Sondland hopes the materials will be shared with the Committees in advance of his Thursday testimony.”
Former Ukraine Envoy Set to Testify Friday (6:30 a.m.)
Three House committees leading the Trump impeachment inquiry are set to hear a private deposition Friday from Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.
The panels are still planning for Yovanovitch to testify, even though the White House has pledged not to cooperate with the investigation. Canceling another witness at the last minute would add fuel to Democrats’ threat to include obstruction of Congress as an article of impeachment.
The State Department on Tuesday blocked Sondland from appearing for his scheduled deposition less than an hour before it was set to start. The committee chairmen issued a subpoena for Sondland and could do the same for Yovanovitch if she doesn’t show up. Sondland’s attorney said he would testify Oct. 17.
- Perry was subpoenaed to provide documents to help House Democrats determine whether he played a role in Trump’s pressure on Ukraine to investigate 2020 political rival Joe Biden.
- Two associates of Rudy Giuliani were arrested on federal charges of violating campaign finance limits as part of a plot to oust the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine. Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman were arrested at Dulles International Airport outside Washington as they were about to leave the country with one-way tickets.
- The two men had been subpoenaed by House committees in the impeachment inquiry. Their lawyer, John Dowd, told lawmakers in a letter they “assisted Mr. Giuliani in connection with his representation of President Trump.” Trump said he didn’t know Parnas and Fruman. “Maybe they were clients of Rudy,” he said.
- Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said his country is “ready to investigate” whether previous authorities meddled in the 2016 U.S. elections. At an all-day news conference in Kyiv, Zelenskiy said he hasn’t received any information yet about allegations of meddling from Trump’s administration.