Impeachment inquiry hearing with former US Ambassador to Ukraine

By Veronica Rocha and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 3:33 p.m. ET, November 27, 2019
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9:23 a.m. ET, November 15, 2019

Fact check: Nunes claimed a former DNC staffer worked with Ukrainian officials to dig up dirt on the Trump campaign

From CNN's Dan Merica and Tara Subramaniam

Republican Rep. Devin Nunes just claimed that Alexandra Chalupa, a former staffer for the Democratic National Committee “worked with Ukrainian embassy officials to spread dirt on the Trump Campaign.”

Fact First: Chalupa denied the allegations in a 2017 statement to CNN.

"During the 2016 US election, I was a part-time consultant for the DNC running an ethnic engagement program," Chalupa told CNN. "I was not an opposition researcher for the DNC, and the DNC never asked me to go to the Ukrainian Embassy to collect information.

Multiple representatives from the Clinton campaign and the DNC have denied the charges, as has the Ukrainian embassy. "I ran the opposition press program for the Clinton campaign and I don't know what the hell they're talking about," said Zac Petkanas, a former Clinton staffer.

Republicans, though, have seized on the fact that Chalupa did meet with representatives from the Ukrainian Embassy during the election, meetings that Chalupa says were about an "Immigrant Heritage Month women's networking event" she helped organize in June.   

9:25 a.m. ET, November 15, 2019

Nunes: Democrats held closed-door impeachment inquiry "like some kind of strange cult"


House Intelligence Committee ranking member Devin Nunes, a Republican from California, used part of his opening statement to criticize the Democrats and how they've run the impeachment inquiry.

He mentioned the first the first public hearing, which happened on Wednesday.

"I'm glad that on Wednesday, after the Democrats staged six weeks of secret depositions in the basement of the Capitol — like some kind of strange cult — the American people finally got to see this farce for themselves," Nunes said.

Remember: While the hearings were behind closed doors, both Republican and Democratic members of the committee were allowed to attend.

He also accused Democrats of using Trump's July 25 phone call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky as an "excise" to being impeachment proceedings.

"So Americans can rightly suspect that his phone call with President Zelensky was used as an excuse for the Democrats to fulfill their Watergate fantasies," he said.

Watch the moment:

9:21 a.m. ET, November 15, 2019

Schiff: Yovanovitch was seen as "an obstacle" for the President

Former US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch
Former US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty

Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said President Trump considered former US Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch "an obstacle to the furtherance of the President’s personal and political agenda."

"For that she was smeared and cast aside. The powers of the presidency are immense, but they are not absolute and cannot be used for a corrupt purpose. The American people expect their President to use the authority they grant him in the service of the nation, not to destroy others to advance his personal or political interests."

Schiff claimed the Yovanovitch's ouster "helped set stage for an irregular channel that could pursue the two investigations that mattered so much to the President, the 2016 conspiracy theory, and most important, an investigation into the 2020 political opponent he apparently feared most, Joe Biden."

"And the President’s scheme might have worked but for the fact that the man who would succeed Ambassador Yovanovitch, whom we heard from on Wednesday, acting Ambassador Taylor, would eventually discover the effort to press Ukraine into conducting these investigations and would push back hard, but for the fact that someone blew the whistle," the California Democrat said.

Watch more:

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

Schiff: Yovanovitch pissed off Giuliani and his associates

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

In his opening statement, Chairman Adam Schiff referenced a quote from witness George Kent who talked about "pissing off" corrupt people during his public testimony earlier this week.

Here's what Schiff said:

"As George Kent told this committee on Wednesday, 'you can't promote principled anti-corruption action without pissing off corrupt people.' And Ambassador Yovanovitch did not just piss off corrupt Ukrainians, like the corrupt former prosecutor general Yuriy Lutsenko, but certain Americans like Rudy Giuliani, Donald Trump's personal attorney, and two individuals now indicted who worked with him, Igor Fruman and Lev Parnas. Lutsenko, Giuliani, Fruman, Parnas and others who would come to include the President's own son Don Jr. promoted a smear campaign against her based on false allegations."


9:20 a.m. ET, November 15, 2019

Adam Schiff delivers opening remarks


House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff spoke about former US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch in his opening remarks.

"She is an exemplary officer who was widely praised and respected by her colleagues. She is known as an anti-corruption champion whose tour in Kiev was viewed as very successful," he said.

Watch more:

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


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.