U.S. House committees on Monday released the first transcripts of closed-door impeachment testimony that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said detailed a smear campaign that ultimately led to the ousting of U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.
Gavino Garay reports.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN ADAM SCHIFF SAYING: "This morning we released the depositions of Ambassador McKinley, and Ambassador Yovanovitch." Democratic Representative Adam Schiff on Monday announced the House Intelligence Committee would begin releasing transcripts of closed-door testimony from witnesses in the impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump.
The first disclosures included a 300-pluspage deposition by ousted U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovich.
Yovanovich detailed to lawmakers efforts by Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani in that country, allegedly seeking dirt on Trump's political opponents.
Chairman Schiff, who described her as a distinguished U.S. diplomat with a "reputation as a fighter of corruption," said the testimony revealed a deliberate, back channel campaign to smear her and force her out.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN ADAM SCHIFF SAYING: "So what does this irregular backchannel sactioned by the president do?
It seeks to remove someone fighting corruption in Ukraine...That smear campaign, orchestrated by this irregular channel was successful in removing a U.S. ambassador." In her October 11 testimony, Yovanovitch told lawmakers that Ukrainian officials who'd spoken to Giuliani told her to to "watch her back" .
Asked about President Trump's personal lawyer's presence in Ukraine, she said quote, "I wasn't really sure what exactly was going on" ... and that she became aware of Trump's involvent in Ukraine quote "like everybody else in this room." By reading the press and watching TV.
The investigation into the Republican president is focused on a July 25 phone call in which Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate Joe Biden, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate.
Four U.S. officials called to testify by Democrats did not show up as requested on Monday, Schiff added, and the president pressed his demand for a whistleblower to appear.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN ADAM SCHIFF SAYING: "They should follow the example of the courageous people that have come forward... People who have in their careers much more at risk have shown the courage to come forward.
They have not hidden behind litigation.
They have not hidden behind the White House." Some Democrats say Republican Trump, who has ordered administration officials not to cooperate, should face an obstruction of justice charge among the impeachment counts they plan to consider against him.
If the House votes to approve articles of impeachment, the process moves the Republican-controlled Senate, where that chamber would hold a trial on whether to remove the Trump from office.
Senate Republicans have so far show little appetite for removing the president.