House Democrats are set to convene their second open impeachment hearing on Friday with a witness expected to detail the shadow Ukraine policy run by President Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.
Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, who was recalled from Ukraine this year, is scheduled to appear before the House Intelligence Committee at 9 a.m. ET.
Yovanovitch lost her post after a campaign led by Giuliani and associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, witnesses have told House investigators.
Those three worked with Ukraine’s then-prosecutor general Yuri Lutsenko to spread what Yovanovitch called lies about her, including that she was disloyal to Trump and that she had given Lutsenko a list of Ukrainians she didn’t want prosecuted.
That wasn’t so, Yovanovitch says, and she told investigators she suspected they spread those stories because they “were interested in having a different ambassador at post — I guess because they wanted to have business dealings in Ukraine, or different business dealings.”
Yovanovitch already has talked with investigators; read her closed-door deposition here.
Although some State Department officials have said they objected to what they saw happening, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo agreed to end Yovanovitch’s tenure early and spurned requests to defend her in public, witnesses have said.
Pompeo’s adviser, Michael McKinley, faulted what he called Pompeo’s willingness to sell out a career diplomat and resigned.
Parnas and Fruman have been arrested and charged with violating U.S. campaign finance law; they have pleaded not guilty. An attorney for Parnas has told NPR he’s open to working with congressional impeachment investigators, but the outlines of that aren’t clear.
Case for the defense
Although Yovanovitch’s account adds context and detail to the role Trump gave Giuliani in the Ukraine affair, her withdrawal took place before core events in the saga, including the White House’s pursuit of investigations by Ukraine’s government against Trump’s political rivals.
Republicans are expected to emphasize Yovanovitch’s tangential involvement in the central narrative and repeat that Trump has broad powers to replace any ambassador — and many other officials — within the administration.
Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney has argued that the impeachment case boils down to complaints by the foreign policy establishment about Trump.
But the administration works for the president, foreign policy is necessarily political and, Mulvaney said, critics need to “get over it.”
Also Friday, investigators are expected to hear behind closed doors from foreign service official David Holmes, a comparative newcomer in the Ukraine drama who could prove an important witness.
Holmes is understood to have been with a top diplomat, Ambassador Gordon Sondland, at a restaurant when Sondland got a call from Trump on his cellphone.
Holmes overheard Trump on that call ask Sondland about investigations he expected from Ukraine, according to testimony on Wednesday by another diplomat, Ambassador William Taylor.
Investigators want to hear from Holmes directly, and another question in the Ukraine affair is whether he might appear and tell his story in a public hearing.
The Associated Press reported that a second State Department staffer also was with Holmes and Sondland on the day of Trump’s call, but details about that hadn’t been confirmed by the Intelligence Committee and it wasn’t clear when or if investigators might hear from that person — or when the public might.