Impeachment inquiry hearing with former US Ambassador to Ukraine

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9:07 a.m. ET, November 15, 2019

Meanwhile, the White House just released another Trump-Ukraine call transcript

The White House just released the transcript of the first phone call between President Trump and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky.

This call was on April 21, two months before the July 25 call that's at the center of the impeachment inquiry.

9:07 a.m. ET, November 15, 2019

The hearing just started

The House Intelligence Committee's hearing just started.

Former US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch — who was ousted earlier this year — is scheduled to testify.

Chairman Adam Schiff and ranking member Devin Nunes will give opening statements. Yovanovitch will give her opening statement after she is sworn in.

9:07 a.m. ET, November 15, 2019

Marie Yovanovitch just sat down

Pool
Pool

Former US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch just entered the House room where she'll testify publicly.

Yovanovitch was recalled from her post in May. In the July 25 phone call that's at the heart of the impeachment inquiry, President Trump disparaged her, calling her "bad news" and saying, "she's going to go through some things."

9:02 a.m. ET, November 15, 2019

People are starting to file into the hearing room

People are starting to file into the hearing room for the second hearing in the impeachment inquiry into President Trump.

Former US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch will testify this morning before the House Intelligence Committee.

9:01 a.m. ET, November 15, 2019

GOP senator: "This is a kangaroo court"

From CNN's Ted Barrett

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/Getty Images
Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/Getty Images

Republican Sen. Kevin Cramer said yesterday that, while the President is going through a personally difficult time with the impeachment inquiry, he ultimately will be cleared because “he didn’t do anything wrong.” 

The North Dakota conservative freshman is a close ally and fierce defender of Trump. They met Thursday at the White House and speak regularly on the phone about impeachment and other issues. 

A reporter pressed Cramer on why he doesn’t want to hear testimony from Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney or former National Security Adviser John Bolton, both who were close to the events in question but who have resisted testifying.  

“Because I think this is a kangaroo court,” Cramer said flatly. 

Remember: If the House voted to impeach President Trump, it will go to the Senate, which will hold a trial.

8:59 a.m. ET, November 15, 2019

The GOP said the first public hearing was boring. There could be more emotion today.

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

Republicans seeking to rebut Wednesday's hearings with two career diplomats cast aside the event with yawns: They claimed it was boring.

Today's proceedings could inject more emotion into the impeachment saga. If there is a human face to the Ukraine scandal, it would be Yovanovitch, who was ousted from her post in Kiev after President Trump's allies launched a campaign to discredit her.

During her closed-door testimony, Yovanovitch recounted the shock she felt at being told to take the first plane home because Trump wanted her out. At one moment she became emotional, and had to leave the room as she recalled her "dismay and disappointment" at the situation.

"Do you want to take a minute?" the Democrats' attorney, Daniel Goldman, asked her.
"Yeah, just a minute. I'm just going to exit it for one minute," she said.

When the proceedings began again, Goldman said "we understand this is a difficult and emotional topic, and we thank you for your honest recollection and answers.”

We're not sure if Yovanovitch will display similar emotion today. She is regarded as a serious career diplomat — one of the highest ranking women in the foreign service — and people who know her say she is tough.

Democrats hope even without moments like the one in the closed hearing, she will come across as the victim of an unfounded smear effort ultimately designed to surface dirt on Trump’s political rivals.

Other potential "victims" of the crimes Democrats are alleging against Trump are more problematic. Even career officials have questioned the propriety of Hunter Biden's role in Ukraine, even as there remains no evidence of wrongdoing.

That makes Yovanovitch the most compelling voice for what effect Trump's actions had -- and the most personal.

8:59 a.m. ET, November 15, 2019

Marie Yovanovitch just arrived on Capitol Hill

Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images
Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

Former US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, who was ousted from her post earlier this year, just arrived on Capitol Hill for her testimony.

The hearing, in front of the House Intelligence Committee, will begin at 9 a.m. ET.

8:30 a.m. ET, November 15, 2019

How Republicans could push back on Yovanovitch's testimony

From CNN's Marshall Cohen

Former US Ambassador to the Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, who was ousted in April, is scheduled to testify this morning.

She is a career diplomat who was abruptly pulled from Kiev last spring after a personal order from President Trump. He made the decision after a months-long public campaign against Yovanovitch, led by his attorney Rudy Giuliani and others in the right-wing media.

But prepare for Republican pushback: While she might have a compelling story to tell about her personal experience, Yovanovitch wasn't around for any of the other events that are part of the impeachment inquiry — including Trump's controversial phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in July.

CNN reported that House Republicans are planning to highlight that Yovanovitch doesn't have firsthand knowledge of Trump's conversations with Zelensky or his interest in having Ukraine announce investigations into his political rivals, including Biden.

She left her post in May — two months before the critical phone call with Zelensky — and before the Ukrainians learned that there was a holdup in the $391 million package of US military aid.

7:55 a.m. ET, November 15, 2019

Here's how this morning's impeachment inquiry hearing will work

Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images
Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images

Today's impeachment inquiry hearing with Former US Ambassador to the Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch kicks off at 9 a.m. ET.

The format will largely follow that of Wednesday's hearing — the first public one in the impeachment inquiry.

Here's a rundown of how we expect this morning to play out:

  • The first round of questions: Both the chairman of the committee, Rep. Adam Schiff of California, and the top ranking Republican member, Rep. Devin Nunes, also of California, will evenly divide 90 minutes of questioning at the start of the hearing. They can take as much consecutive time as they want, so long as the other side is provided equal time out of that 90 minutes. So expect each to take 45 minutes.
  • House lawyers: While Schiff and Nunes will speak and may interject from time to time, the resolution makes clear that this will be a staff-led questioning, as each member can delegate his time to counsel on the committee.
  • For the Democrats: On the Democratic side, the opening lines of questioning will be spearheaded by Daniel Goldman, a former federal prosecutor with the Southern District of New York who joined the committee in March and led the questioning in the closed-door depositions.
  • For the Republicans: On the GOP side, it will be Steve Castor, the chief investigative counsel for the House Oversight panel who has been detailed over to the House Intelligence Committee, along with his boss, Rep. Jim Jordan.
  • Members' questions: At the conclusion of 90 minutes, the rest of the panel's members will each have five minutes to question the witnesses.