Friday was day two of public hearings in the House Intelligence Committee’s impeachment inquiry, and one witness seemed to have trouble sticking to the script.
Marie Yovanovitch, a former ambassador to Ukraine, seemed to clearly contradict herself during her testimony, potentially putting the entire case against the president in jeopardy.
One of the stars for the Republicans during Yovanovitch’s testimony was Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) who clearly tripped Yovanovitch up on her testimony about the Obama administration’s knowledge of Hunter Biden and his ties to Ukranian energy firm Burisma.
It must be remembered that this relationship, between Biden and Burisma — which at one point was under investigation for corruption — was one of the things Donald Trump asked the Ukranian president to investigate during their July 25th phone call.
“The first time that you personally became aware of Burisma was actually when you were being prepared by the Obama State Department for your Senate confirmation hearings and this was in the form of practice questions and answers,” Stefanik said. “This was your deposition. And you testified that in this particular practice Q&A with the Obama State Department, it wasn’t just generally about Burisma and corruption, it was specifically about Hunter Biden and Burisma. Is that correct?”
“Yes, it is,” responded Yovanovitch.
The problem for Yovanovitch is that this statement was not in line with other testimony she provided on the issue, Fox News reported.
Yovanovitch stated at another point during Friday’s hearing, “And although I have met former Vice President Biden several times over the course of our many years in government service, neither he nor the previous administration ever raised the issue of either Burisma or Hunter Biden with me.”
Later on, Rep. John Ratcliff (R-TX) took Yovanovitch to task about this apparent contradiction. At this point, Yovanovitch recognized her mistake and tried to make it difficult for Ratcliff to pin her down.
Ratcliffe, attempting to clarify Yovanvitch’s stance on the matter, asked “out of thousands of companies in the Ukraine the only one that you recall the Obama-Biden State Department preparing you to answer questions about was the one where the vice president’s son was on the board, is that fair?” The former ambassador replied, “Yes.”
Stefanik summed up the situation nicely:
So for the millions of Americans watching, President Obama’s own State Department was so concerned about potential conflicts of interest from Hunter Biden’s role at Burisma that they raised it themselves while prepping this wonderful ambassador nominee before her confirmation and yet our Democratic colleagues and the Chairman of this committee cry foul when we dare ask that same question that the Obama State Department was so concerned about.
The importance of Hunter’s relationship with Burisma is paramount to the impeachment inquiry. If the Republicans can show that President Trump had something important that he wanted to be investigated, that the desired probe was not for personal political purposes, then the impeachment inquiry simply cannot stand. With Yovanovitch’s contradiction, in which she clearly admitted that the Obama administration knew something fishy was going on with Hunter and Burisma, one can argue that the Republicans are well on their way to showing that Trump’s request was entirely legitimate.