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Day 2 of the Impeachment Inquiry: Marie Yovanovitch’s testimony

Attorney Scott Pilutik wrestles with the news of the day, from a lawyerly perspective…

Marie Yovanovitch testimony today: will follow here while I can.

Devin Nunes reading the earlier (April) phone call summary between Trump and Zelensky, as if it bore any relevance. Trump promised this “far more important” letter a few days ago. It was, of course, innocuous. That call summary is here.

Nunes’ opening statement hinted at the 2016 Ukraine election interference conspiracy theory, which theory is undercut by Devin Nunes failing to open an investigation during the two years he was Intel Committee chair.


Very important point:


Yovanovitch now delivering her opening statement and resume. Like Bill Taylor and George Kent, she’s a career public servant with a sterling record.

Her opening statement is similar but not identical to her opening statement published before her initial (closed door) testimony

She’s blowing up the conspiracy theories and smear campaign about her spread by Giuliani, Parnas, and Fruman.

“Shady interests the world over have learned how little it takes to remove an American Ambassador who does not give them what they want.”

Giving an emotional plea on behalf of US ambassadors everywhere, including those that have been killed while serving.

I didn’t hear her mention Pompeo by name but she definitely called him out for failing to protect her.

Schiff establishing that Yovanovitch’s anti-corruption efforts put her in direct conflict with Lutsenko, Shokin (prior Ukraine prosecutors) and Giuliani, who wanted a visa for Shokin and which she rejected.

Shokin wrote an affidavit accusing Hunter Biden of corruption; Joe Biden (and the rest of the world) had managed to dislodge Shokin because he was, well, manifestly corrupt.

Daniel Goldman leading Yovanovitch through her removal and the smear campaign.

This is chilling testimony.

Goldman walking her through the implied threats Trump made about her during the July Zelensky phone call. “She’s going to go through some things.”
“It kind of felt like a vague threat.”

Goldman now picking up on Trump praising the very corrupt Lutsenko in the July call; Yova says there was “inter-agency consensus” about Lutsenko’s corrupt nature.

Goldman now showing a Trump tweet about a John Solomon article in Daily Wire. Solomon, a supposed journalist, is the source for the only reporting supporting the conspiracy theories that Ukraine and not Russia interfered in the 2016 election (on Hillary Clinton’s behalf, if you can wrap your head around that).

Meanwhile, while she’s testifying, some scumbag on Twitter is continuing to smear her


That was quite a moment. Schiff jumped in and informed Yovanovitch that Trump was attacking her on Twitter in real time, and then gave her a chance to respond, which response she nailed. Schiff leads her to condemn witness intimidation. Wow.

Goldman did well to lead through the idiocy at the heart of the Biden allegations: Biden’s pressure to oust Shokin actually increased the chances that Burisma would be investigated. Shokin wasn’t investigating any companies in Ukraine. (Shokin now says otherwise but it’s baseless and self-serving because.)

Well, I hope Reuters and NBC News weren’t bored.



Really enjoying this reboot of ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN.

Giuliani, you’re up next.

Have either been found guilty of pled guilty
Rick Gates
George Papadopoulos
Paul Manafort
Michael Flynn
Michael Cohen
Roger Stone

Giuliani and Sondland could very easily find themselves on this list.

You could arguably add Alex van der Zwaan and Richard Pinedo, both guilty in Russian interference investigation, but who were fairly tangential to Trump.

The rest of the day is shaping up to be about whose view of corruption prevails; the fact-based consensus of everyone in the State Dep’t? Or the barely-baked conspiracies that the President claims are real but which only exist in a handful of John Solomon articles (which themselves are factually vacant)

They’re back. Nunes opens by questioning Yovanovitch’s relevancy to the proceedings, which is pretty rich coming from a guy who will shortly be bitching about Schiff not letting him question Hunter Biden.

Republican counsel Castor now questioning Yovanovitch, seemingly to establish that she’s she’s doing just fine — employed and a fellow at Georgetown, etc. No blood no foul, right?

Castor’s asking questions that he should already know the answers to; I’m assuming he doesn’t because this line of questioning is working very well for her. I wouldn’t be surprised if Jim Jordan takes over so he can repeatedly interrupt her.

Fantastic answer now explaining the nature of corruption in Russia and Ukraine — the entire justice system are political tools. This is how Trump and much of the GOP sees the world too.

Castor is now knee-deep in the conspiracy waters. The black book, the op-ed. She has a great answer about the op-ed; where Trumpworld sees the beginning of an anti-Trump conspiracy, she sees ordinary politics on a hot issue (Crimea invasion).

She just reminded Castor that our own intelligence community concluded it was Russia and not Ukraine that interfered with our election. She’s killing it on every level. A boxing ref would’ve stepped in.

Schiff now up, and using his time to get Yovanovitch to nod through some refutation of Republican talking points, notably the “no blood no foul” point — the foreign aid was released only when it became known than the whistleblower complaint was lodged.

Schiff points out that the earlier Trump Zelenskyy phone call (released this morning) that the White House promised would show that he discussed corruption… but it didn’t.

Stefanik now up. Yovanovitch still employed; she got a Georgetown fellowship with State Department’s help.

Now onto Burisma and Hunter Biden, pointing out that the Obama administration was concerned about potential conflicts of interest, and expressed them when they interviewed Yovanovitch. I didn’t know that but it doesn’t render the question any less moot. But she did well.

Himes grandstanding. Not that I disagree with any of it. Taking on Trump’s tweet from this morning, specifically attacking the notion of “absolute rights.” Posing routine hypotheticals whereby rights are abused.

Conaway (R) now up, hammering home the same theme they’ll all hammer — e.g., her life after removal has been splendid, her trepidation is unfounded.

This is weak sauce, as the kids once said (or maybe still say, I’ve no idea anymore). Whether Yovanovitch is shunned at the lunch counter is of little matter when everyone knows how lives change when Trump whips his unhinged audience into a lather.

Sewell (D) allowing Yovanovitch to talk up some history and the non-partisan nature of the job.

Turner (R) now going into her portfolio but it’s not yet clear why because it seems helpful to her.

OK, he’s trying to establish that it was proper for Sondland (as EU ambassador) to include Ukraine matters in his portfolio.

John Kerry campaign staffer meeting with US ambassador in 2004 is interesting (I hadn’t seen that). He asked whether that was proper and whether she’d have taken that meeting; she responded that it would depend on what the meeting was about. I imagine that meeting could easily be improper though, again, depending on the agenda.

There’s a disconnect between the Republicans simultaneously suggesting that the President has the absolute right to set foreign policy and that he should also be credited for releasing aid when his so-called “foreign policy” decision was to not release that aid. He released it when someone blew the whistle, after which they smeared that person as the one who “started all this.”

Stefanik now whining about the whistleblower in order to get herself on Fox News. There’s a real obvious answer to this litany of mentions by Schiff that the whistleblower would testify, and Stefanik even knows it. All these references predate the testimony of a stream of direct witnesses. If the whistleblower testified they’d all complain about hearsay.

Jim Jordan now yammering.

Swalwell (D) mentions responding to Stefanik’s claims about the whistleblower, makes the same point I made (things have changed). Swalwell reads threats toward the whistleblower into the record.

Everyone pretty much gave up questioning Yovanovitch seriously and are now just advancing narratives. But she did fantastic. Not sure how many more committee members can have a go but I wouldn’t expect anything groundbreaking from here on out.

Ratcliffe (who is completely in the tank for Trump) going back to Hunter Biden and the Obama administration’s prep to her if any questions were asked. It’s all so thin.

Denny Heck is also grandstanding but comes off as genuinely sympathetic. Now he’s just unloading on Trump. Mentions Trump’s history of ripping people who’ve served; Khizr Khan, McCain.

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