Trump helps Democrats by trash-tweeting Marie Yovanovitch

Adam Schiff speaks during the House Intelligence Committee hearing with witness Marie Yovanovitch as part of the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump on Capitol Hill in Washington Nov. 15 2019

Joshua Roberts Reuters

During the November 15 hearing, the Democrats' lawyer Daniel Goldman, reviewed a log of a July phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. "I have freedom of speech just like other people do", Trump told reporters at the White House later in the day. "She wouldn't even have known about the quote if Mr Schiff hadn't read the tweet", he said. Trump's quid pro could also be charged in an article of impeachment as abuse of power.

"Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad", Mr Trump said, finishing his tweet with a reminder that presidents have the "absolute right" to hire and fire ambassadors. Nevertheless, she testified in the impeachment hearing against Trump on Friday.

"It's very intimidating", she told the panel.

The comments from Ukraine come a day after former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor and senior State Department official George Kent became the first witnesses to publicly testify in a series of impeachment hearings.

Giuliani also was trying to engineer a Ukrainian investigation into a debunked conspiracy theory embraced by some Trump allies that Ukraine, not Russian Federation, interfered in the 2016 U.S. election. That would lead to a trial in the Senate on whether to convict Trump and remove him from office.

According to abridged call transcripts released by the White House, Trump asked Zelenskiy for a "favor" in investigating a debunked conspiracy theory about the 2016 U.S. election, as well as asking him to investigate Democrat presidential hopeful Joe Biden's son.

My guess is that Republicans would still have been unable to counter her poised account of how she was ousted because of a smear campaign instigated by Trump's lawyer and television pitchman Rudolph W. Giuliani.

She also said that in April she was abruptly told by telephone to return to Washington.

According to one person close to the House Republican leadership who spoke to the Times, during a Thursday practice session in the Capitol aimed at coordinating their overall message, Trump's congressional allies planned to use the same care in questioning Yovanovitch that Republican senators tried to employ during the testimony of Christine Blasey Ford past year, when she testified that Justice Brett Kavanaugh assaulted her when the they were in high school. Further to his own amusement, he apparently decided that Friday morning, right about when Yovanovitch's hearing began, was exactly the right time to release a rough transcript of his first call with Zelensky in April.

At the opening of the hearing, Republican Devin Nunes criticised Democrats for launching the impeachment inquiry, calling it a political exercise based on second- and third-hand hearsay.

Committee chairman Schiff said that her ouster "helped set the stage for an irregular channel" of conducting Ukraine policy that was used by Trump and his allies to push Kyiv to investigate the president's political rivals.

"I will make sure he does not intimidate the whistleblower", Pelosi countered. Other committee members, however, pointed out that as president, Trump had the authority to recall diplomats at any time and for any reason.

Mr Holmes, a United States diplomatic aide, testified behind closed doors before us lawmakers in Washington DC.

Yovanovitch alleged that Trump's handling of USA policy puts America at risk. Parnas and Fruman, who are both under indictment for illegally funneling foreign donations to USA political candidates, sought to establish a liquefied natural gas operation in Ukraine.

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