In an appearance Friday before the House Intelligence Committee’s impeachment inquiry, former Ukraine diplomat Marie Yovanovitch admitted under oath she never had a conversation with President Donald Trump all year.
Also, she testified that she did not hear a July phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky when he alleged threatened to withhold military aid from Kiev until he was provided “dirt” on former Vice President Joe Biden.
Under questioning from Ranking Member Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) Yovanovitch responded, “no,” when asked if she had a conversation in 2019 with Trump or listened in to the July call.
“Were you involved in the proposed Trump-Zelensky — later Pence-Zelensky — meetings in Warsaw, Poland, on September 1st?” the California Republican asked.
“No, I was not,” she responded.
“Did you ever talk to President Trump in 2019?” Nunes continued.
“No, I didn’t not,” Yovanovitch said, noting she also had not talked to acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney.
Nunes noted, based on those answers, that meant Yovanovitch was “not a fact witness” to anything regarding President Trump’s foreign policy interactions with Ukraine.
He also characterized the details of her May firing at Trump’s direction as a human resources issue, instead of a matter relevant to the Democrat-led investigation.
“Thank you, Ambassador. Uh, I’m not exactly sure what the ambassador is doing here today. This is the House Intelligence Committee that’s now turned into the House Impeachment Committee. This seems more appropriate for the Subcommittee on Human Resources at the Foreign Affairs Committee,” he said.
Democrats have claimed that Trump directly appealed to Ukraine to investigate their party’s involvement in that country during the 2016 election cycle.
They also note that Yovanovitch’s ouster led Trump to pursue a separate policy channel with Ukraine that was led by his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, who reportedly pushed for her to be fired.
Nunes also criticized the entire hearing and impeachment effort.
“It’s unfortunate that today and for most of next week we will continue engaging in the Democrats’ day-long TV spectacles instead of solving the problems we were all sent to Washington to address,” he said.
“We now have a major trade agreement with Canada and Mexico ready for approval, a deal that would create jobs and boost our economy,” Nunes continued.
“Meanwhile, we have not yet approved funding for the government which expires next week, along with funding for our men and women in uniform. Instead the Democrats have convened us once again to advance their operation to topple a duly elected president.”
Republicans on the panel have claimed that Yovanovitch is really most upset about being relieved of her post and Trump’s decision to go around normal diplomatic channels, which they said he was forced to do to prevent leaks.