On Monday, the US House intelligence committee publicly published the first transcripts of the testimony of its secret investigation into the impeachment on Donald Trump.
Two transcripts have been released: one from the former US ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch on October 11th and the other from the former State Department official Michael McKinley on October 16th.
Over nine hours of testimony, Ms. Yovanovitch was interrogated for an hour by the Democrats and now by the Republicans, with the two sides then proceeding back and forth in blocks of 45 minutes.
At some point about two-thirds of the way, President Adam Schiff noticed that the room was getting a little mature. "Just to let MPs know, we'll turn it back on," he said. "It's a feast or famine here, and we are – my staff told me that it started to smell like a locker room here. So we'll hand it to the minority and turn it back on."
Under the friendly questions of the Democrats, Ms. Yovanovitch described how Ukrainian officials warned in advance that Rudy Giuliani and other Trump allies were planning to "do things, including me" and that "they were trying to hurt her".
The former envoy, who was expelled from his job in May by order of Mr. Trump, testified that a senior Ukrainian official told her that "I really need to watch my back" and described how she felt threatened.
Almost all the reports of the testimonies of Ms Yovanovitch – e selected extracts issued by the commission – refers to the interrogation lines pursued by the democrats who were harming the President.
In a joint statement, Schiff, chairman of the foreign affairs committee Eliot Engel and chairman of the commission for surveillance and reform Carolyn Maloney he said the transcripts showed Trump's attempts "to manipulate the levers of power to his personal political advantage".
"The transcripts of the interviews with the ambassadors Yovanovitch and McKinley clearly show how President Trump approved the removal of a highly respected and effective diplomat based on public falsehoods and smears against the character of the Yovanovitch ambassador and his work in support of the anti-corruption goals of US foreign policy, "they said.
But it is also worth reading the other half of the transcript, in which Republicans including Jim Jordan, Mark Meadows and Lee Zeldin question Mrs Yovanovitch on a series of issues in Ukraine, her dismissal and the events that led to the investigation of the prosecution.
Here are some key sections of the rest of the transcription of 317 pages.
1. Anger at average losses
Ms Yovanovitch refused to comment on how her opening statement was leaked The Washington Post, unleashing a daring back and forth between his lawyers and Republicans.
After returning from a brief pause near the beginning of the hearing, Republican staff Steve Castor asked how the newspaper had obtained a copy of his statement before the committee had seen it.
"We heard it during the break The Washington Post ce n & # 39; is and there are many types of discussions about it, "said Castor." In any case it was apparently provided The Washington Post, so some of our members during the break asked me to know if you know how it could have happened. "
One of his lawyers, Lawrence Robbins, replied that "everything she would know about it, she would know through a lawyer, so she won't answer that," prompting Mr. Castor to ask if he had given it to the newspaper.
"I'm not going to answer that either," he said.
"Why?" Mr. Castor asked.
"Because I will not answer this … I'm sorry, I will not engage in any answer about the work product or the privilege of a lawyer-client, and I am not the witness. So, if you have another question pending for the ambassador, you should ask for it. "
Asked if he thought his opening statement should be provided to the press, Yovanovitch said: "I really don't really have an opinion about it. I didn't think about it in terms of what is more appropriate or less appropriate than share with the general public, but I know that there is a lot of interest in this. "
2. DEBATE "DO NOT CONTINUE"
One of the most controversial issues in the entire history of Ukraine was the accusation that Ms Yovanovitch had provided a list of "not to continue" at the former Ukrainian Attorney General Yuriy Lutsenko during their first meeting in 2016.
Ms Yovanovitch stated that the story was "completely false". "I want to state categorically that I never myself or through others, directly or indirectly, never direct, suggested or in any way asked any government or government official in Ukraine or elsewhere to abstain from investigating or prosecuting actual corruption, "he said in his opening statement.
Mr. Lutsenko first made the complaint in March of this year in an interview with The hill. It was widely reported the following month that it had withdrawn the request, based on a report of an interview given by Lutsenko to another Ukrainian publication called TheBabel.
Mr Lutsenko, however, denied to withdraw the complaint when reinterpreted by The hill, claiming to be in agreement with the statement, but that Ms. Yovanovitch "did not give me a written list, but rather provided the list of names orally during a meeting" .
During the hearing, the Republicans insisted with Ms Yovanovitch on the formulation of her statement that she was referring to "actual corruption" – if there were times when she had pressured the Ukrainians not to follow those she believed were not corrupt. "Have you ever urged the prosecutor not to prosecute such individuals or entities?" Castor asked.
"I think there is some sort of line there," said Yovanovitch. "You have to be sure that, you know, there is a real case that is not politically motivated, that it's not just about harassment and pressure, so those conversations certainly took place."
Asked whether she discussed the names of individuals or entities, how many, and to cite specific examples, Ms. Yovanovitch appeared evasive, able to cite only Artem Sytnyk, head of the National Anti-Corruption Office of Ukraine .
Castor asked, "Can you remember other names?" – "No." – "But were these names?" – "No. I don't think so." – "So they weren't names?" – "I think we just discussed a person, Mr. Sytnyk." – "OK. So it's a name, not a name?" – "To the best of my memory."
Later in the hearing, Mr. Zeldin came back to this line of questions, asking if he could remember how many cases he discussed with the Ukraine. Ms. Yovanovitch said no. "Can you give us a quote? I mean, are we talking about five, 20, 50, 100? "Zeldin said. "Are we talking about five or are we talking about 5000?"
Ms. Yovanovitch said: "Well, it's certainly not 5000. I wish there were many cases of anti-corruption in Ukraine. But honestly, I don't know and I don't want to mislead you." – "But the number is more than one, but can't you tell us anything other than that? "-" Yes, that's right. "
Zeldin then asked how he would refer to the cases in conversations with the Ukraine, since he had previously stated that he did not "remember ever discussing an entity and recalled having discussed a name only one time".
"Did you use case numbers? Was it the code? How did you have a conversation with the Ukraine on a single case, not referring to the name or entity? "He said.
Ms. Yovanovitch said: "So here's the thing. I know we spent a lot of time talking about anti-corruption cases today. It's not the whole universe out there. So when I told you about the honorable Sytnyk to that concerning, I mean, is what I remember in that sphere, but I know that there were other areas.
"And how would we have referred to it? Certainly not based on the number of the case, I'm not among the weeds like that, but with someone's name. "
Zeldin said, "OK. But just to make it clear that there are no misunderstandings, my question is: how many individual cases did you speak about corruption in Ukraine? Is your answer one or is yours more than one? "
Ms. Yovanovitch replied: "You know, at this point, I can't remember anything else."
3. DETAILS OF CLASSIFIED CALLS
George Kent, deputy deputy minister for European and Eurasian affairs, may have leaked confidential information when he discussed the details the infamous 25 July phone call between Trump and the Ukrainian president with Yovanovitch, after she went to work at Georgetown University.
Under democratic interrogation, Ms Yovanovitch said she learned for the first time the contents of the call "the day it was made public" by Mr. Trump September 25, but he learned of the general "passing" question when Mr. Kent "said it was this call" about two weeks ago.
"He indicated that there had been a request for assistance from the president, as we know now, but my understanding of that conversation with Mr. Kent was that President Zelensky had not agreed, and he noticed that, you know , was the previous administration that was responsible for some of these things and that he would have his own attorney, "he said.
Mr. Jordan returned to the subject later, asking why Mr. Kent shared a "reading of what had happened during the call before any of us knew about the content" and when he had no ongoing responsibility for his previous position.
He noted that the contents were marked as "secrets" until Trump declassified the transcript of the call on September 24th. "I think he knows I'm still interested in the bilateral relationship and I'm still interested," said Yovanovitch.
Jordan said: "I guess you're wondering if you received a phone call between two heads of state … Probably not something that should be shared and probably not common knowledge. Yet the deputy deputy deputy added shares it with someone who is no longer involved with the Ukraine, which is teaching a course in Georgetown. And I'm just wondering, has it ever happened to you before? "
Ms. Yovanovitch said: "I'm sure he did."
Mr. Meadows later asked, "Did you indicate that it was a classified call?" – "No." – "Did you have any idea that it could be a call classified between two foreign leaders?" – "I didn't think that the particular thing, the particular part he shared with me was actually classified."