The three House committees leading the impeachment inquiry into President Trump have started releasing transcripts of private depositions. The depositions cover hours-and-hours of testimony from current and former officials in the Trump administration.
The first releases involve testimony from veteran diplomat Michael McKinley and former U.S.-Ukraine ambassador Maria Yovanovitch. The impeachment inquiry enters a new phase this month with expected public hearings. Among the takeaways:
McKinley, a former senior adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, told lawmakers that a colleague felt the State Department was using "bullying tactics" to try to prevent him from cooperating with Congress.
Yovanovitch testified that she discovered Trump personally pressured the State Department to remove her, even though a top official told her that she had "done nothing wrong."
As part of that, she maintains that the campaign against her was led by Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani.
As for her abrupt departure, Yovanovitch said she got a call at about 1am local time and was told to "be on the next plane home to Washington." When she asked why, she says she was told: "I don't know, but this is about your security. You need to come home immediately. You need to come home on the next plane."
All this as President Trump claims he “doesn't really know” Yovanovitch and added that he's sure she is a "very fine woman." Speaking at the White House, Trump said it was Ukraine's new president, who wasn’t a fan of Yovanovitch. This is interesting as according to the summary of his call with Ukraine’s leader, it was Trump who referenced Yovanovitch on the July call, describing her “bad news” and saying she was “going to go through some things.”