ABC News(WASHINGTON) — Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn., called the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine’s deposition on Friday “deeply concerning” and Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., said the former ambassador “contradicted herself” in her testimony, during an interview on ABC’s “This Week” Sunday.
Marie Yovanovitch was deposed Friday by three House committees as part of their impeachment investigation. She testified that President Donald Trump pressured the State Department to remove her, based on “false claims” from his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani.
Yovanovitch said she was told in late April that she needed to leave immediately — “to be on the next plane” — and then arranged a meeting with Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan.
“He said that the President had lost confidence in me and no longer wished me to serve as his ambassador. He added that there had been a concerted campaign against me, and that the Department had been under pressure from the President to remove me since the Summer of 2018,” according to the remarks. “He also said that I had done nothing wrong and that this was not like other situations where he had recalled ambassadors for cause.”
“Equally fictitious is the notion that I am disloyal to President Trump,” she said.
Himes, who sits on the Intelligence Committee, told ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl on Sunday that her removal was “deeply concerning” and became key in the House’s impeachment inquiry.
“She was very, very important because she is an example of abusing the American public trust in favor of narrow objectives” he said.
In a subsequent interview on “This Week,” Zeldin, who serves on the Foreign Affairs Committee, claimed that Yovanovitch “contradicted herself” during her testimony, and said that he believes her testimony, and others — including former U.S Envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker — should be released to the public.
“Now, if we all had Ambassador Volker’s testimony, we would know that that’s not true,” Zeldin told Karl. “We would also know that it obliterated the quid pro quo charge, that fairytale, that President Trump supposedly demanded that there would be an investigation open against the Bidens in order to get aide from the United States to Ukraine.”
Volker was deposed Oct. 3. His texts with Gordon Sondland, the U.S Ambassador to the European Union, and Bill Taylor, the top U.S diplomat to the Ukraine, were provided as part of his closed-door deposition before multiple House committees.
Himes told Karl on “This Week” that he expects the transcripts of the depositions will eventually be released, but gave two main reasons the depositions are happening behind closed doors.
“One reason is that when you’re talking to ambassadors and other U.S. government officials who have regularly had access to classified information, you need to be able to talk about that information and then go back and say ‘hey, this conversation has to be redacted because it involves classified information.’ That’s the most important reason,” he said. “The second reason for this is that when you’re interviewing people who are around the president — political supporters of the president — you don’t want them to be able to look at each other’s testimony in order to coordinate testimony.”
Some House Republicans and the White House have also criticized their inability to have a representative cross examine the witness.
“Impeachment is more akin to a grand jury indictment, and in a grand jury indictment, it happens behind closed doors, there aren’t cross-examinations. Evidence is presented,” Himes said.
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