Impeachment hearings: Live updates from Yovanovitch’s testimony

Impeachment hearings: Live updates from Yovanovitch’s testimony

Steve Vladeck

6m ago / 1: 37 PM UTC

OPINION: Republicans’ Sixth Amendment impeachment objection has ominous implications

Not every constitutional law question has two sides. We don’t lose sleep, for example, over how many senators represent each state (two), or whether representation in the House must be proportional (yes), or whether the president really has to be at least 35 years old at the time he is sworn in (he does). Much of the time, the text of the Constitution is clear beyond any reasonable dispute — leaving no room for even the most compelling policy arguments that the text should be understood to mean something else.

But you wouldn’t know this from the latest legal objection to the ongoing House impeachment proceedings — that they violate the president’s Sixth Amendment right to confront the witnesses against him.

The right to confront is one of nearly a dozen different individual rights protected by the Sixth Amendment. Those rights apply, per the first four words of that provision, “[i]n all criminal prosecutions.” Thus, federal criminal defendants today have a panoply of protections all designed to ensure the fairness of their trial — ranging from the right to a speedy and public trial to the right to the assistance of counsel in their defense. But only in criminal cases. 

Read the full piece.

Leigh Ann Caldwell and Josh Lederman

18m ago / 1: 25 PM UTC

Budget official expected to defy White House, testify in impeachment inquiry

A top official at the Office of Management and Budget indicated Thursday he is willing to testify in the House impeachment inquiry, his attorney said.

Mark Sandy would be the first employee from the OMB to defy the White House and appear before Congressional investigators. The White House has urged administration officials not to comply with what they are calling a sham investigation.

“If Mr. Sandy is subpoenaed, he will testify this Saturday,” Barbara Van Gelder, an attorney at Cozen O’Conner, said in an email.

Sandy is considered a critical witness who can provide insight into the withheld security aid to Ukraine, which is at the basis of the impeachment inquiry opened by House Democrats.

Read the full story here.

Dareh Gregorian

49m ago / 12: 54 PM UTC

Who is Marie Yovanovitch?

Here’s what you need to know about the longtime diplomat:

  • She was born in Canada after her parents fled Nazi and communist regimes, and moved to Connecticut when she was 3 years old.
  • Her nickname is Masha.
  • She’s a graduate of Princeton, where she studied the former Soviet Union.
  • Yovanovitch has been a foreign service officer for 33 years, and served in six presidential administrations — four Republican and two Democrat.
  • She’s been appointed ambassador three times — twice by Republican George W. Bush and once by Democrat Barack Obama. She was ambassador to Kyrgyzstan from 2005 to 2008 and ambassador to Armenia from 2008 to 2011. She was U.S. ambassador to Ukraine from August 2016 until her abrupt removal in May.

Alex Moe

1h ago / 12: 37 PM UTC

Yovanovitch testimony will describe the ‘first chapter’ in Trump’s Ukraine efforts, official says

House Democrats are holding their second public hearing with Yovanovitch to go into more detail about how President Donald Trump’s efforts to get Ukraine to investigate his political rivals began, a Democratic official working on the impeachment inquiry told reporters Thursday evening.

“Ambassador Yovanovitch was really the first chapter of that story in that she was unceremoniously removed by the president for being very effective in her job in trying to root out corruption in Ukraine,” the official said.

The intention in the first public hearing with Bill Taylor and George Kent “was to provide the beginning-to-end storyline” of the president’s actions, the official said.

“After a vicious smear campaign that was based on false allegations and propagated by the president and his allies, Yovanovitch was inappropriately fired,” the official said. “This set the stage for the president’s scheme when he began to press Ukraine to investigate his political rival and affect the 2020 elections.”

Yovanovitch was the “first casualty” of the president’s Ukraine pressure campaign efforts, and her removal shows “even more evidence of abuse of power by the president to really set the stage for this irregular channel to really begin their pressure campaign,” the official said.

The way Trump described Yovanovitch in the July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy “leads many people to believe this was not an appropriate removal” and that it was “an attempt to remove somebody who was standing in the way of efforts by people like Rudy Giuliani to do the president’s political bidding in Ukraine.” 

Haley Talbot and Kyle Stewart

15h ago / 10: 51 PM UTC

Scalise calls allegations against Trump ‘baseless,’ ‘disgraceful’

House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., called the allegations against President Donald Trump “baseless” and “disgraceful” when asked about Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s comments that the witnesses’ testimony at the first public impeachment hearing Wednesday “corroborated evidence of bribery.” 

“I think it’s disgraceful that these liberals here in Washington continue to try to throw baseless allegations and accusations at the president, when they’ve tried for years to push an impeachment narrative,” Scalise told reporters Thursday.

He claimed that Pelosi, who refrained from launching a formal impeachment inquiry into Trump for much of the year despite pressure from her caucus, is “obsessed” with impeaching the president.

On Wednesday’s testimony, Scalise said Democrats “don’t have anything. There are no impeachable offenses,” adding that they “refuse to bring issues that would actually help families, lower drug costs, do other things that matter to people, because they don’t like the results of the 2016 election.”

Shannon Pettypiece

2h ago / 12: 13 PM UTC

Trump: Impeachment has been ‘very hard on my family’

BOSSIER, La. — President Donald Trump suggested Thursday that the impeachment process was taking a personal toll, calling impeachment a “problem” that had been “very hard on my family.”

“I have one problem. And it has been very hard on my family,” he said at a campaign rally in Louisiana, adding that “impeachment, to me, is a dirty word.”

“It’s been very unfair, very hard on my family. Me, it’s my whole life, it’s crazy,” he said. “What a life I lead. You think this is fun, don’t you? But it’s been very hard on my family. Very, very hard.”

The president left Washington, D.C. — and sporadic attempts to appear above the impeachment fray — behind Thursday night, attacking Democrats organizing the public hearings that began this week and the career diplomats testifying in those sessions.

Read the full story here.

Emma Thorne and Julie Tsirkin

15h ago / 10: 20 PM UTC

Graham: Not going to let Trump be convicted ‘based on a bunch of hearsay’

Sen. Lindsey Graham vowed Thursday not to vote for proceeding with a Senate impeachment trial unless the whistleblower comes forward.

“I will not allow trial in the Senate to go forward with my vote unless the whistleblower comes forward, even though they’re offering hearsay,” Graham told reporters outside a Judiciary Committee meeting.

“Now, I want to know, is there a connection between the whistleblower, the CIA, Biden or any other Democrat that would … cast suspicions over their motives?” Graham asked. “I want to get to the bottom of this. We’re not gonna let the president of the United States be tried based on anonymous accusation. We’re not going to let him be convicted in the Senate based on a bunch of hearsay.”

Graham, who chairs the Judiciary panel, said a Senate trial would legitimize “a process that I think is a danger to the presidency itself. You’re having hearings in the House where Democrats only call witnesses, the whistleblower is being shielded from examination. It’s fundamentally unfair.”

The South Carolina Republican added that if the tables were turned, with a Democratic president and a majority of Republicans in the House, a similar situation would “destroy the presidency over time. And how would you, as a member of Congress, like to be on the receiving end of this? Somebody said you did something wrong, the whistleblower complaint, but you can’t find out who they are, and all the accusations against you are based on hearsay. This is a dangerous precedent to set for the country.”

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