Day 1,030: Impeachment update: so many more nails in Trump’s coffin
The House of Representative’s impeachment inquiry seemingly bears enough fruit everyday to sustain charges against Donald Trump related to his pressuring Ukraine to investigate the Biden family as a condition for receiving necessary military aid.
That was true many times over on Friday.
With Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine testifying, Trump committed witness tampering so brazen that it stunned even Republicans and Fox News.
Democrats asked Yovanovitch about the tweets in real time, and she couched Trump’s comments as “very intimidating”.
The content of Yovanovitch’s testimony was profoundly damaging to Trump too. She painted a picture of a coordinated attack by him and his allies in an effort to oust her from her role as some sort of shell game was afoot in Ukraine.
Today, we heard from Marie Yovanovitch, who testified that while serving as the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine she was abruptly terminated from her post last May, after being told she had lost the confidence of the president.
And while Yovanovitch left her post before some of the key dates in the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry against the president, her testimony made it clear that she felt that a smear campaign had been waged against her by Rudy Guiliani, which ultimately led to her abrupt dismissal.
Her removal would better allow Trump to pressure Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky to do Trump’s political bidding.
Instead, she made it clear that she would have been an obstacle to the president’s pressure on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had she remained in Kyiv. At one point, she told Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT) that she would have opposed the summer 2019 suspension of $400 million in U.S. military aid and would never have asked Zelensky to pursue the conspiracy theory that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election. Asked to affirm that Trump was legitimately concerned about Ukraine corruption, she shot back, “That’s what he says.”
Finally, David Holmes, a diplomat in the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine, testified in a closed door session. He said he overheard a Trump phone call with U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland related to pressuring Zelensky.
Reports indicated Holmes’ testimony went really, really poorly for Trump.
David Holmes told lawmakers in a closed-door impeachment inquiry Friday that US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland had told Trump the Ukrainian President would do “anything you ask him to” and that Sondland had confirmed the Ukrainians were going to “do the investigation,” one day after Trump has asked Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, according to a copy of Holmes’ opening statement obtained by CNN.
Notably, Holmes’ account is not hearsay, because he was a direct ear witness to the conversation.
“Sondland told Trump that Zelensky ‘loves your ass,’ “ Holmes said, according to a copy of his opening statement. “I then heard President Trump ask, ‘So, he’s gonna do the investigation?’ Ambassador Sondland replied that ‘he’s gonna do it,’ adding that President Zelensky will do ‘anything you ask him to.’”
Holmes, who was subpoenaed to appear on Friday, explained that Sondland had placed the call to Trump, and he could hear Trump because the call was so loud on the terrace of a restaurant, where they dined with two others.
“While Ambassador Sondland’s phone was not on speakerphone, I could hear the President’s voice through the earpiece of the phone. The President’s voice was very loud and recognizable, and Ambassador Sondland held the phone away from his ear for a period of time, presumably because of the loud volume,” Holmes testified.
Altogether, Holmes’ account couldn’t be clearer. Trump’s demand to Zelensky was never about rooting out corruption or whatever fairy tale the GOP is trying to spin, it was about slandering the Biden family.
Holmes said that he was personally aware of the episodes [acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine William] Taylor testified to about Sondland saying that “everything” relied on announcing an investigation. But Holmes said that Taylor told him on September 8: “Now they’re insisting Zelensky commit to the investigation in an interview with CNN.”
“I was surprised the requirement was so specific and concrete,” Holmes said.
“While we had advised our Ukrainian counterparts to voice a commitment to following the rule of law and generally to investigating credible corruption allegations, this was a demand that President Zelensky personally commit to a specific investigation of President Trump’s political rival on a cable news channel,” Holmes said.
The level of information outlining Trump’s motives and actions related to Ukraine is overwhelming. Things will likely only get worse for him when Sondland publicly testifies Wednesday.
1,030 days in, 432 to go