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narvikk/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- A State Department official, who was subpoenaed to testify amid the House impeachment probe, told lawmakers that President Donald Trump asked EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland in a phone call about the status of an investigation he requested from the Ukrainian president.

David Holmes, the U.S. diplomat in Kiev, Ukraine, appeared for a closed-door deposition with House impeachment investigators on Friday. The hearing took place immediately following the House Intelligence Committee's questioning of former Ukraine Amb. Marie Yovanovitch in the second public hearing amid the impeachment probe.

Holmes, fielding questions from investigators behind closed doors for six hours, described the conversation between Sondland and Trump that he said he overheard from the ambassador's cell phone at a restaurant in Kiev on July 26, just one day after the president's second call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy -- when Trump appeared to encourage Zelenskiy to work with his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani and Attorney General William Barr on investigations into the 2016 election and former Vice President Joe Biden's family.

"I then heard President Trump ask, 'So he's gonna do the investigation?' Ambassador Sondland replied that 'he's gonna do it,'" adding that Zelenskiy "will do 'anything you ask him to,'" according to a copy of his opening statement obtained by ABC News. CNN first reported the details of Holmes' remarks.

Holmes added that Sondland told Trump: the Ukrainian president "loves your ass."

"The President's voice was very loud and recognizable, and Ambassador Sondland held the phone away from his ear for a period of time, presumably because of the loud volume," he said, according to the copy of his opening statement.

The new testimony raises additional questions for the White House about Trump's knowledge of and involvement in efforts to pressure Ukraine to launch alleged investigations.

While Trump and his Republican allies have argued that he was working to combat corruption in Ukraine, the new account from Holmes suggested the president was more focused on an investigation into Biden's son Hunter and his relationship with the Ukrainian energy company Burisma.

Holmes said he asked Sondland if it was true that Trump didn't care about Ukraine -- and claims that the ambassador agreed, adding that "Trump only cares about big stuff."

"I noted there was 'big stuff' going on in Ukraine, like a war," Holmes said in his statement. "And Ambassador Sondland replied that he meant 'big stuff' that benefits the President, like the 'Biden investigation' that Mr. Giuliani was pushing."

Both Republicans and Democrats suggested that Holmes could appear publicly in the coming weeks to share his account of the Trump-Sondland phone call, as well as his other observations from his post at the U.S. embassy in Kiev.

"In that statement that was released there is a lot to be concerned about," California Rep. Eric Swalwell told reporters Saturday. "Particularly that more witnesses described the president's obsession with investigating his political opponents."

North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows, said the testimony from Holmes corroborated what Amb. William Taylor said in his sworn public testimony on Wednesday about the call, and brought up more questions for Sondland.

Other Republicans downplayed the new account.

"You got some guy who overheard a phone call," Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan told reporters. "I’m sure the Democrats are going to bring him, well I’m betting they’re going to bring him for a hearing and we’ll get a chance to question him in the open."

After a week of public impeachment hearings, Jordan said he believed "things are going well" for Trump amid the impeachment proceedings.

"You know they’ve had three hearings, three witnesses with no firsthand knowledge the facts. I say this all the time but, the thing about facts, they don’t change," he said. "We have the call transcript, we have two individuals on the call, [President] Trump, [President] Zelenskiy that say there was no linkage, no pressure, no pushing whatsoever."

Sondland is scheduled to testify publicly next week in an open hearing, the first featuring a key player in the impeachment inquiry who frequently interacted with the president.

Democrats have left open the possibility of hearing from more witnesses as the investigation continues. Holmes, in his opening statement, said he decided to come forward after reading reports "noting the lack of first-hand evidence in the investigation."

"I came to realize that I had first-hand knowledge regarding certain events on July 26 that had not otherwise been reported, and that those events potentially bore on the question of whether the President did, in fact, have knowledge that those officials were using the levers of our diplomatic power to induce the new Ukrainian President to announce the opening of a particular criminal investigation," he said in his statement.

The House Intelligence Committee has five public hearings with eight witnesses scheduled for next week.

Impeachment investigators also gathered Saturday to depose Mark Sandy, a career Office of Management and Budget official, who became the first staffer from the budget office to cooperate with their investigation.

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Luka Banda/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- House impeachment investigators on Saturday released transcripts from the closed-door depositions of Jennifer Williams, a special adviser to Vice President Mike Pence, and Tim Morrison of the National Security Council, ahead of their public appearances before lawmakers next week.

Williams and Morrison both listened in on President Donald Trump's July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy from the Situation Room.

Democrats said their testimony indicated that Trump's comments "immediately set off alarm bells throughout the White House," House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel, and acting House Oversight Chair Carolyn Maloney said in a statement.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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chokkicx/iStock(NEW ORLEANS) -- In the Deep South, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards seeks to fend off a challenge from his GOP rival, who is backed by President Donald Trump, as voters head to the polls on Saturday.

The runoff election comes amid a looming impeachment investigation, that has seeped into the state's off-year contest -- nationalizing the last gubernatorial election of 2019.

Trump has made stops in the state at least three times for back-to-back rallies in a little over a month, as he tests the bounds of his strength to sway an election outcome in Republicans' favor -- as the party grapples with concerns over ceding more ground in a ruby red state.

GOP candidate Eddie Rispone, an entrepreneur and native of northern Baton Rouge, is counting on the president's popularity to offset his struggles as a political outsider -- who began his bid with little state-wide name recognition up against the incumbent -- and carry him over the finish line Saturday as Trump often claims he does in competitive races.

The president has injected himself into the race, testing his influence to deliver another GOP victory as he did in neighboring Mississippi last week, but failed to do in Kentucky last week.

Trump pleaded with his loyal supporters in Louisiana on Thursday, asking them to give him a win after failing to save Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin in last week’s election.

“So Trump took a loss, so you got to give me a big win please,” he told the crowd. “The next step to victory begins on Saturday. Your vote on Saturday is your chance to show the radical left Washington Democrats that Louisiana rejects their extremism and their corruption. You will not allow your voice to be silenced, you will not allow your vote to be canceled.”

Despite the state siding with Trump by 20 points in 2016 over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the Pelican state elected a Democrat in 2015 when Edwards defeated David Vitter, a scandal-tarred Republican seeking to follow the unpopular Bobby Jindal, 56% to 44%.

Edwards, a rare Democratic southern governor, is relying on his winning 2015 playbook, positioning himself as a moderate Democrat with conservative stances on guns and abortion and touting his record as a West Point graduate and former officer in the U.S. Army. The Democrat is also aiming to focusing his re-election campaign on his investments in education and the economy, and his successful efforts with Medicaid expansion throughout his governorship.

“The progress that we have made is still at stake. It took all of us to put Louisiana back on a path to prosperity, but it only takes one person putting Washington style politics over the people of Louisiana to reverse everything that we have accomplished together,” Edwards said last month on the night of the primary.

“We are not going back. But that is exactly what Eddie Rispone would have us do," he continued. "He wants to put us right back on the path that led us straight into the ditch.”

Rispone, who has largely self-funded his campaign, is attempting to align himself in lockstep with the president.

"We need a pro-Trump conservative, an outsider, someone with serious business skills, someone that's not beholden to special interests," Rispone told the crowd at the Monroe rally earlier this month. "Someone that's got backbone to go against the status quo, someone like Trump."

In an effort to nationalize the race around the fight over impeachment, Rispone has repeatedly tried to cast his opponent as "a radical liberal Democrat," invoking rhetoric Trump frequently uses in a state that heavily leans red.

Despite Rispone’s name being on the ballot, the GOP candidate reiterated his pitch Thursday night in Bossier City, as he stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Trump, suggesting that a vote for him is also one for the president.

“We have to get rid of John Bel Edwards, and we need your help,” Rispone said at the third rally. “This is bigger than Louisiana.”

Edwards was forced into a runoff last month, despite winning the most votes in the jungle primary -- since he received 47% to Rispone's 27%, who split the vote with another Republican in the contest, Ralph Abraham, but failed to secure a majority of the vote to win outright.

For Saturday's runoff, turnout is already up from the Oct. 12 primary.

More than 480,000 voters opted to cast their ballots early, surpassing the primary's early vote total by over 100,000, according to the Monroe News Star.

The polls close Saturday at 9 p.m. eastern time.

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bboserup/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- The first Office of Management and Budget official to break ranks amid the House's impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump arrived Saturday for his closed-door testimony.

Mark Sandy, a career White House official and former OMB director, is testifying under subpoena -- against White House orders.

Acting White House budget chief Russ Vought, along with Michael Duffey, an official with oversight over national security spending, have both refused to comply with congressional subpoenas to testify in the impeachment inquiry. And the agency has spurned repeated demands and subpoenas from House Democrats seeking documents and records relevant to their probe into whether the Trump administration inappropriately withheld foreign aid to Ukraine to pressure the country to launch investigations that could benefit the president's reelection bid.

Sandy, who signed off on the initial withholding of the aid, was later replaced in the process by Duffey, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Investigators, who have questioned senior Pentagon and State Department officials in their inquiry, hope Sandy will be able to shed new light the circumstances surrounding the withholding of military aid to Ukraine over the summer, and how the aid was eventually released on Sept. 11.

Amb. William Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine who testified before the House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday, told lawmakers that he first learned of the hold in July, after Congress had previously approved nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine from various Defense and State Department initiatives that had been publicly announced.

"I and others sat in astonishment. The Ukrainians were fighting Russians and counted on not only the training and weapons but also the assurance of U.S. support," he recounted, adding that the money was frozen by acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, at the president's request. "In an instant, I realized that one of the key pillars of our strong support for Ukraine was threatened."

Catherine Croft, who as a special adviser on Ukraine at the State Department, recently testified that her foreign counterparts raised concerns about a hold on military aid "very early on," according to a transcript of her deposition released by Democrats.

Laura Cooper, a senior Pentagon official who recently testified on Capitol Hill, said that aides were confused by the hold on the financial aid because the Defense Department had certified the financial transfer in May when Ukraine had met the necessary anti-corruption benchmarks. Senior aides also questioned the legality of the hold on money approved by the House and Senate, she said.

Trump and White House officials have defended the withholding of aid over the summer, arguing that it was done to pressure European nations to contribute more security aid to Ukraine, and because of concerns about corruption. Republicans have also argued that the hold the aid was eventually lifted before the end of the last fiscal year on Sept. 30, ensuring that Ukraine would receive the assistance.

In a White House press conference in October, Mulvaney also said the aid was withheld to pressure Ukraine to investigate unsubstantiated theories about Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election. Trump's efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate the 2016 election and Biden family is at the center of the House impeachment prove.

"The look back to what happened in 2016 certainly was part of the thing that he was worried about in corruption with that nation," Mulvaney said. "And that is absolutely appropriate."

Democrats have suggested that the aid was released once they began investigating the matter.

In Wednesday's open hearing with George Kent, a senior State Department official, and Amb. Taylor, Illinois Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, noted that the hold on the aid was lifted two days after House Democrats announced their investigation on Sept. 9.

"You don't really get points when you get your hand caught in the cookie jar and someone says, 'Hey, he's got his hand in the cookie jar' and then you take your hand out," Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-California, said Friday during the open hearing with Marie Yovanovitch, the former US ambassador to Ukraine.

ABC News' Anne Flaherty, Bobby Gehlen and Libby Cathey contributed to this report.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.
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Luka Banda/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- Marie "Masha" Yovanovitch, a longtime career diplomat, was serving as U.S. ambassador to Ukraine last spring when she was abruptly ordered home and told that she had lost the confidence of the president. President Donald Trump in a subsequent phone call to Ukraine’s president called her "bad news" and said "she’s going to go through some things."

On Friday, she got the chance to tell her side of the story as part of the ongoing House impeachment proceedings.

Here are five key takeaways:

Yovanovitch directly disputed conspiracy theories embraced by Trump

Yovanovitch repeatedly knocked down suggestions by Republicans that Ukrainian politicians were part of a coordinated, state-sponsored effort to undermine Trump.

While true that some prominent politicians in Ukraine had criticized the president, she described those critiques as “isolated incidents” that are common when it comes to public service.

“That does not mean that someone is or a government is undermining either a campaign or interfering in elections,” she said.

Yovanovitch also pointed to U.S. intelligence that found Russian operatives -- at the behest of their government -- engaged in a far more widespread, invasive and secretive campaign to sway voters in support of Trump.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, could have been trying to "throw off the scent" that Russia was behind election interference and create an "alternative narrative" that Ukraine was to blame, she said.

Yovanovitch added she would not have recommended an investigation into Hunter Biden had she remained Ukraine's ambassador. She said Hunter Biden’s work with a Ukraine gas company does represent the appearance of a conflict of interest, but didn’t warrant a corruption probe.

“The Obama administration did not ask me to help the Clinton campaign or harm the Trump campaign,” she said. “Nor would I have taken such steps if they had.”

Republicans and Democrats thanked her for her service, as Trump knocked her on Twitter

A long-running theme in the hearing was Yovanovitch’s 33 years in public service. Republicans went to great lengths to acknowledge her work as a career diplomat.

But the hearing was underway for only an hour when Trump lobbed tweets aimed at her, claiming that "everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad."

"Would you like to respond to the president's attack that everywhere you went 'turned bad’?" California Rep. Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, asked Yovanovitch.

"I don't think I have such powers," she said, adding that she believes her and her colleagues have made the places she's been "demonstrably better."

Schiff later told reporters he thought Trump’s tactic was "witness intimidation." During the hearing, he asked Yovanovitch whether such tweets might discourage others from coming forward with allegations of wrongdoing.

"Well, it's very intimidating," she said.

"It's designed to intimidate, is it not?" Schiff asked.

"I mean, I can't speak to what the president is trying to do," she said. "But I think the effect is to be intimidating."

White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said: “The tweet was not witness intimidation, it was simply the President’s opinion, which he is entitled to.”

No GOP lawmaker though appeared to follow the president’s lead in attacking her personally.

Yovanovitch says she had three contacts with Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and remains in the dark as to his motives

One allegation in the impeachment inquiry is that Giuliani -- acting on behalf of the president -- sidelined American diplomats and official U.S. policy to pursue the widely debunked theory that corrupt Ukrainian politicians interfered in the 2016 presidential election to help the Democratic candidate, former Sec. of State Hillary Clinton.

Yovanovitch said she only had contact with Trump’s lawyer three times and not involving the allegations at hand.

"I do not understand Mr. Giuliani's motives for attacking me, not can I offer an opinion on whether he believed the allegations he spread about me," she said. "Clearly no one at the State Department did."

Yovanovitch added, "What I can say is that Mr. Giuliani should have known those claims were suspect -- coming as they reportedly did from individuals with questionable motives and with reason to believe that their political and financial ambitions would be stymied by our anti-corruption policy in Ukraine."

She described the toll on her personally and professionally

Republicans repeatedly pointed out that it was well within Trump’s right as president to recall Yovanovitch for any reason.

Yovanovitch testified this was indeed the case. But at multiple points in the hearing, she described the difficulty of being essentially fired, without any reason given other than she had lost the confidence of the president. She also wondered why Trump and Giuliani went out of their way to try to discredit her personally.

“In my line of work, perhaps in your line of work as well, all we have is our reputation,” she told lawmakers. “And so this has been a very painful period.”

She later added: “Why it was necessary to smear my reputation falsely?”

Yovanovitch says her experience in Ukraine could green light corruption abroad

In her opening statement, Yovanovitch described her job in patriotic and inspiring terms but laid out the risks involved. She recalled being thrown into dangerous situations without the protection of body armor or weapons. And in Ukraine, she described going to its border with Russia 10 times to wave the American flag to make clear that the U.S. opposed Moscow’s attempt to expand its power.

Most concerning though is that American diplomats are being put in dangerous situations without the full backing of the U.S. government, she maintained. She warned that under Trump the State Department was being "hollowed out from within.”

"Sometimes we get people really angry with us," Yovanovich said of foreign officials. "It's uncomfortable, and we are doing our jobs … And if they realize that they can just remove us, they’re going to do that."

When asked if during her 33 years as a foreign service officer if she had ever heard of a president recalling an ambassador without cause and because of allegations the State Department knew to be false, she replied: "No."

ABC’s Ben Siegel contributed to this report.Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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Luka Banda/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- The first week of public hearings of the House impeachment inquiry featured many faces familiar to viewers who have been paying close attention and the faces of two attorneys, who may have been unfamiliar.

Under the rules set for these hearings, Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., and Ranking Member Devin Nunes, R-Calif., are given 45 minutes each to establish the hearing's narrative. However, they are allowed to yield that time to counsel -- but not to other members of the committee. They both yielded large chunks of their time Wednesday and Friday to attorneys.

On behalf of the Democrats, there's Daniel Goldman, the director of investigations for the House Intelligence Committee. For the Republicans, there's Steve Castor, the chief investigative counsel for House Oversight Committee Republicans.

The hearings are largely about a July 25 phone call between President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, amid the impeachment inquiry, where a whistleblower and House Democrats argue Trump allegedly pressured the foreign leader to conduct an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and son, Hunter.

During Friday's public testimony, Schiff described the witness, former Ukraine Amb. Marie Yovanovitch, as an "exemplary officer" in his opening statement. Yovanovitch was invited to address circumstances around her departure from her post amid attacks in conservative media and by Ukraine's former public prosecutor, who accused her of giving him a "do not prosecute" list and blocking him from traveling to the U.S. to investigate Democrats after she publicly criticized the country's lack of progress in tackling corruption.

In his opening statement, Nunes hit many of the same notes he did on Wednesday, accusing Democrats of a maniacal focus of impeaching a "duly-elected president," and trumpeting "Second and thirdhand information" of diplomats rather than the "the record" of the president's phone call. He even used some of his time to read the transcript released Friday by the White House of Trump's first call with Zelenskiy that took place in April.

The attorneys were hesitant to go after Yovanovitch personally, mainly focusing on the events during her time as ambassador.

Castor spent much of his time Friday questioning the former ambassador on her claims the Ukrainian government and members of the Trump administration worked together to potentially oust her.

He asked, "Do you believe your removal was part of some scheme to, to make it easier for elements of the Ukrainian establishment do things counter to U.S. interests?"

Yovanovich agreed, saying "I think that's certainly what the Ukrainian establishment hoped."

During Wednesday's hearing, Schiff and Nunes commissioned the seasoned attorneys to ask more in-depth cross-examination and direct questions than on Friday, during their allotted time frames with acting Amb. William Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, and George Kent, a senior State Department official.

Nine minutes after Schiff asked Taylor to re-read his most notable text messages to U.S. envoy Kurt Volker and U.S. ambassador to the European Union Gordon D. Sondland, the floor was given to Goldman.

Goldman left his job as a seasoned federal prosecutor with the Southern District of New York in 2017 in opposition to Trump's policies. He went on to become a contributor with MSNBC/NBC and was hypercritical of the Trump administration during the Mueller probe.

In his questioning on behalf of the Democrat, Goldman led Taylor and Kent to repeat and highlight some of their most forceful and critical statements.

Castor, on the other hand, has more experience with these types of proceedings.

He served on the top investigative panel in the House since 2005 and has been involved in tons of high-profile probes as chief investigator for House Oversight and Reform. He was at the tip of the spear for cases like the "Fast and Furious" gun-running probe, conservative bias at the IRS and steroids in baseball.

Nunes turned questioning over to Castor after 10 minutes, and Castor used that time in part to push Taylor to agree that a backchannel for foreign policy involving Trump's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, wasn't "as outlandish as it could be."

Though the House Intelligence Committee has led the impeachment effort, Castor has conducted the bulk of staff questioning for the minority behind closed doors.

At the close of Friday's hearing, the committee is expected to move into a closed session to interview David Holmes, the staffer Taylor referenced in his testimony who allegedly overhead a different conversation between Trump and Sondland referencing "investigations."

The public hearings are scheduled to continue next week.

On Tuesday, Jennifer Williams, Vice President Mike Pence's special adviser for Europe and Russia, will testify alongside Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman of the National Security Council. Later that day, former U.S. envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker, and Timothy Morrison, the NSC's Russia expert, will appear before the Intelligence Committee.Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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Maher Legal Services PC(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump has intervened in the cases of three American service members convicted or accused of war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq by issuing two pardons and maintaining the rank of one of the service members who'd been demoted.

Army Lt. Clint Lorance, who had been imprisoned at the U.S. military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, was released later on Friday night and reunited with family members, according to an advocate for his release.

A White House statement issued Friday night announced Trump's actions in the cases of Lorance, Army Green Beret Maj. Matt Golsteyn and Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher.

Lorance had been serving 19 years in prison, according to the Army Times, after being convicted on two counts of second-degree murder for ordering a soldier to fire on unarmed Afghan motorcyclists in 2012.

Golsteyn is charged with the murder of an alleged Afghan bomb-maker in 2010.

And Gallagher, while acquitted of killing a wounded Islamic State captive earlier this year, was sentenced to four months of time served and a reduction in rank for posing with a corpse during a 2017 deployment to Iraq.

"Today, President Donald J. Trump signed an Executive Grant of Clemency (Full Pardon) for Army First Lieutenant Clint Lorance, an Executive Grant of Clemency (Full Pardon) for Army Major Mathew Golsteyn, and an order directing the promotion of Special Warfare Operator First Class Edward R. Gallagher to the grade of E-7, the rank he held before he was tried and found not guilty of nearly all of the charges against him," the statement read.

"The President, as Commander-in-Chief, is ultimately responsible for ensuring that the law is enforced and when appropriate, that mercy is granted," the statement continued. "For more than two hundred years, presidents have used their authority to offer second chances to deserving individuals, including those in uniform who have served our country."

"The Department of Defense has confidence in the military justice system," said Jonathan Hoffman, the chief Pentagon spokesman. "The President is part of the military justice system as the Commander-in-Chief and has the authority to weigh in on matters of this nature."

Speculation that Trump might intervene in the three cases began last week after Fox News contributor Pete Hegseth said the president could take "imminent action" in the form of pardons, commutations or dismissals of charges.

Lorance was released from the military prison at Fort Leavenworth and reunited with family members on Friday night, according to Don Snyder, an author who has advocated for Lorance's release.

"I can assure you, that when Clint left Leavenworth last night and glanced back at the prison walls one last time he was not thinking of the seven years he had lost there, but of the soldiers he was leaving behind," Snyder told ABC News.

John Maher, Lorance's attorney, told ABC News that earlier in the day Trump and Vice President Mike Pence had called Lorance to tell him he had been pardoned.

In a statement, Maher said his client will be looking toward the future.

"Clint will now assume the life he left behind when he was abandoned by the military justice system over seven years ago," he said. "His goal is to attend law school, and otherwise continue his service to the country he loves so dearly."

Golsteyn said he "profoundly grateful" to the president for pardon.

"Thanks to President Trump, we now have a chance to rebuild our family and lives," he added. "With time, I hope to regain my immense pride in having served in our military. In the meantime, we are so thankful for the support of family members, friends and supporters from around the nation, and our legal team."

Golsteyn has been serving on active duty at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, where he had been awaiting court proceedings to begin in his case. Earlier this week, the Army announced that the start of his case, expected to begin in early December, had been pushed back to February.

In a statement the Army had said earlier that it would "review today’s executive actions in order to implement the presidential orders" for Lorance and Golsteyn's pardons, but did not provide a timeline for their release.

The possibility of pardons has been controversial within the ranks of active-duty and retired service members because of the belief that such actions could undermine the military justice system.

"This is so dangerous, nothing pisses me off more than these pardons," a retired general officer fumed to ABC News after they were announced. "This undermines everything we have stood for -- all my years of service goes up in smoke because we have a dictator who has no respect for the rule of law nor what we stand for."

Reports last week that sparked speculation of potential pardons led Defense Secretary Mark Esper to convene a meeting with Army and Navy leadership to review the war crimes cases, two defense officials told ABC News.

According to one official, the meeting was to compile information packets about their cases that Esper could provide to the president.

Esper later confirmed that on Tuesday he had "a robust discussion" with Trump about letting the cases play out in the military justice system.

Both Esper and General Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, later said that they favored letting the military justice system "play out."

ABC News' Martha Raddatz and Cindy Smith contributed to this report.

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3dfoto/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- In North Carolina, a closely-watched swing state that for years has had lawsuits winding through the courts amid partisan claims of voter disenfranchisement, a new series of legal actions could have a big impact in the upcoming 2020 election.

On Friday afternoon, the state Senate approved the newly-redrawn GOP maps, setting up the congressional split to be 8-5 GOP control, as opposed to the current 10-3 Republican advantage.

With the passage of this new map, two Republican districts, the 2nd and the 6th would shift into more urban territory, likely weakening the Republican advantage. These two seats are currently held by GOP Reps. George Holding and Mark Walker. Democrats are already gearing up for new legal challenges and asked the courts to expedite their review of the new map, according to lawyers carrying the case, earning pushback from Republicans in the changed districts.

“Much like the abusive attempt to impeach President Trump, activist judges, career bureaucrats and politicians are locking arms to override the will of the voters," Rep. Walker said in a statement Friday. "Both acts hurt North Carolinians and damage the faith we have in our elections. I will continue to serve our constituents with all of my heart and strength, wherever that path leads."

Democrats contend that the new map, drawn by a Republican-led legislature, which has historically had unconstitutional maps overturned by the court, remains a partisan gerrymander despite the changes.

"This new map is just more of the same, replacing one of the most blatant partisan gerrymanders in the country with another extreme partisan gerrymander," North Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Wayne Goodwin said in a statement. "We hope the courts will step in to protect every North Carolinians' right to make the voice heard and remain steadfast in our commitment to an enacting independent, nonpartisan commission to draw future lines."

And late last month, state and national Democrats filed a lawsuit to overturn the early voting restrictions put in place in 2018 by the Republican-controlled state legislature, which was vetoed by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, but overridden by the General Assembly and signed into law.

Those restrictions prohibit early voting the Saturday before election day for the first time in decades -- a period in which Democrats and African-Americans tend to vote. On the same day, a state court decided with an injunction that North Carolina’s Republican-drawn 2020 congressional maps were unconstitutional.

"With control of everything from the White House and Congress to the Governor's mansion and the General Assembly on the ballot next year, it is vital that every voter can freely and easily make their voice heard," Goodwin said in a statement. “North Carolina Democrats are committed to lowering hurdles to the ballot box, not erecting new ones, and we will never waiver from our commitment to make voting easier and more accessible for North Carolina families."

According to the complaint, filed by the North Carolina Democratic Party, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the Saturday before Election Day was the busiest day of voting in 2018 for the state. More than 6.9%, or 135,000 early voters, cast their ballots that Saturday.

Democrats' lawsuit centers on early voting access

Following a swell in early voting in 2018, state Republicans in North Carolina lost their veto-proof majorities in the House and the Senate. Many of these fights can be traced down to the competitive nature of the state, according to John Dinan, a professor in American politics at Wake Forest University in Winston Salem, North Carolina.

“You have a very competitive state in North Carolina. And so you had a Republican legislature that kind of was able to redraw the maps after the 2010 census and also make some changes to voting rules,” Dinan said. “It’s no surprise that [Democratic] groups have said, ‘Look, let’s see what we can do to push back against this and see if we can win some more seats in North Carolina'," Dinan said.

The Democrats’ lawsuit also argues that the new law makes it more expensive to operate early voting sites, since counties no longer have the flexibility to determine when it is worthwhile to operate. According to voting rights experts, this led counties across the state to close early voting locations as a means to cut costs.

After the bill was signed into law, 43 of North Carolina’s 100 counties eliminated at least one early voting site, almost half reduced the number of weekend days early voting was available and about two-thirds reduced the number of weekend hours, compared to 2014, according to Democracy NC, a nonpartisan, nonprofit voting rights organization.

Observers question the impact of legislative moves; lawsuits

Jen Jones, the director of communications at Democracy NC, sees the new state court’s congressional maps ruling as largely positive. She is worried, though, that potential special elections would have to be called if constitutional maps aren’t redrawn in time.

“What the new congressional lawsuit means for us is a little bit of insecurity about how many primaries we’re going to have, what kinds of maps we are going to see and ultimately who is going to draw them,” Jones told ABC News. “It’s a victory, but it doesn’t acknowledge the practical realities for county boards that have to pay for these elections, and what that might mean for voting sites...that serve historically underrepresented populations, like primarily African-American voters.”

Allison Riggs, the chief counsel for voting rights at the Southern Coalition for Social justice, a nonprofit organization based in the state focused on issues of equity, is worried that special elections would be a cause for confusion and lead to lower turnout.

“I think that anytime you ask voters to do something extra, to go vote twice, you should try to avoid doing that. The way you try and avoid doing that is by the legislature, sort of on its own accord redrawing congressional districts now, instead of appealing or delaying in hopes that they, you know, can sort of eek something out of the confusion and uncertainty,” Riggs said.

A new bill which would permanently restore early Saturday voting made it through the state legislature on Tuesday and is expected to be approved by Gov. Roy Cooper.

Republicans argue that their own bill, which was only passed through a veto override, expanded access to the ballots by mandating times that boards of elections must operate.

"Republicans in the General Assembly voted in 2018 to dramatically expand early voting hours and are finalizing legislation to send to Governor Cooper’s desk that will add early voting on the last Saturday before an election,” North Carolina GOP Chairman Michael Whatley said in a statement. “We would urge Governor Cooper to sign the legislation expanding early voting into law rather than supporting Democrats' unnecessary lawsuit to advance their 'Sue ‘til Blue' agenda.”

Democrats count their new bill as a win and their lawsuit asks that counties have the freedom to determine when, and for how long, their early voting sites should be open and staffed.

Redrawn congressional districts led to showdowns

The same judges which declared the state’s congressional map unconstitutional also struck down state legislative maps earlier this year on the grounds of partisan gerrymandering. The legislature was ordered to redraw the statewide maps and they have been approved by the court.

Because of that, Dinan says that he expects the legislature to be able to handle redrawing congressional districts, in a constitutional way, themselves.

North Carolina's recent issues with ballot box access worries some experts

These changes aren’t the first to come down the pike when it comes to access to the ballot box in North Carolina.

In 2013, Republicans passed a sweeping law that shortened early voting by a week, created stricter photo ID requirements and eliminated same-day registration, among other things.

In August 2016, that law was overturned by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for “discriminatory intent” which “target[ed] African American voters with almost surgical precision.” The law wasn’t changed before election day and early voting showed a decline in black turnout.

During the 2016 presidential election, there was a lower African-American turnout compared to 2012’s election. In 2012, 753,803 African Americans cast their ballots early in North Carolina, which dropped 8.7% to 699,153 in 2016, according to Michael McDonald, an associate professor at the University of Florida who specializes in American elections.

Ultimately, the state’s track record on voter disenfranchisement has been a back and forth jockey between Republicans and Democrats. For that reason, Democrats are seeing an opportunity to bring forward cases like these in an attempt to see more success in 2020, Dinan says.

“The overriding theme is that these cases are not being brought in federal court,” Dinan said. “These are all being brought brought in state court and resting on the North Carolina Constitution grounds. It’s very strategic on the part of folks bringing these cases, that is the North Carolina Supreme Court is now a six-to-one Democratic-backed advantage.”

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Matt Anderson/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine who was abruptly recalled from her post overseas, is testified Friday in the second public impeachment hearing.

After fielding questions from impeachment investigators behind closed doors last month, she offered details of her account of efforts to publicly discredit her and remove her from her post by some of the president's political allies.

Missed the more than six hours of testimony? Catch up on key takeaways from Friday's hearing and the hearing earlier this week.

Here is how the hearing unfolded.

3:21 p.m.

The hearing has ended, thus capping a week of testimony and foreshadowing the upcoming testimony next week.

On Tuesday morning, Jennifer Williams, Vice President Mike Pence's special adviser for Europe and Russia, will testify alongside Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman of the National Security Council.

On Tuesday evening, former U.S. envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker, and Timothy Morrison, the NSC's Russia expert, will appear before the Intelligence Committee, which has led the impeachment inquiry.

Then on Wednesday morning, Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union who amended his closed-door testimony to lawmakers last week and that afternoon Laura Cooper, a senior Defense Department official, and David Hale, a top State Department official testify.

On Thursday morning, Fiona Hill, the National Security Council's former Russia expert under former national security adviser John Bolton

3:19 p.m.

After six hours of questions and testimony, the second public hearing in the impeachment inquiry is wrapping up.

Nunes commented that the "show trial" is coming to an end as members head to a closed door deposition for the rest of the day.

"I hate to break it to my colleagues, if there's anyone else out there watching television ratings, but they must be plummeting right now," Nunes said.

"And I would suggest that we get back to the work of the intelligence committee, that we pass a trade agreement with the United States, Mexico and Canada that would actually help the American people out, because this is an embarrassment."

Schiff ended the day on a different tone, thanking Yovanovitch for her service and decision to come forward and testify.

"Sometimes you're disparaged as the deep state. But what you are is what holds this country together, what holds our foreign policy together, what makes it seamless, what makes it work. And I'm glad America gets to see that," Schiff said.

Schiff added that while Yovanovitch was "the beginning of the story," it isn't the end, saying the push from Giuliani, Parnas, and Fruman to remove her shows how strongly the pushed for political investigations into the Bidens.

"There is no camouflaging that corrupt intent," he said before adjourning the hearing.

Members of the audience stood up to clap and cheer for Yovanovitch as she left the hearing room.

3:10 p.m.

President Trump denied that his tweets about Marie Yovanovitch amounted to witness intimidation, defending his right to freedom of speech.

“I don’t think so at all,” Trump said when asked if he thinks his words could be seen as intimidating.

The president at first tried to ignore the question from reporter April Ryan, telling her repeatedly to be “quiet,” before eventually answering.

In an exchange with Jon Karl, the visibly frustrated president sought to divert the focus back to Adam Schiff and defended his first amendment rights.

“I’ll you about what tampering is. Tampering is when a guy like ‘Shifty Schiff’ doesn’t let us have lawyers. Tampering is when Schiff doesn’t have witnesses, doesn’t let us speak,” Trump said.

“I have the right to speak, I have freedom of speech, just as other people do,” he said.

Trump also acknowledged to Jon that he has watched part of today’s hearing and decried the hearings as a “disgrace” and unfair to Republicans.

“I’ve been watching today, for the first time, I started watching and it’s really sad when you see people not allowed to ask questions," Trump said. "Nobody’s ever had such horrible due process, there was no due process. And I think it’s considered a joke, all over Washington and all over the world.”

2:15 p.m.

Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., is now using most of her five-minute round of questioning to read into the record various quotes from Schiff talking about the whistleblower testifying.

"We want to make sure whistleblowers can come forward but the fact that we can criticized by Rep. Adam Schiff ... shows the duplicity and just the abuse of power that we begin to see."

She turned over 90 seconds to Rep. Jim Jordan to attack Democrats for not releasing all the deposition transcripts.

Schiff stared straight ahead with a placid expression, looking at the countdown clock.

Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-California, is now defending the whistleblower's right to safety, and accusing Republicans of working with Trump to endanger the official.

2:01 p.m.

As of 2 p.m. there's about an hour left in the hearing, with 14 members left to question Yovanovitch in addition to closing remarks from Schiff and Nunes.

The committee is expected to move into a closed session to interview David Holmes -- the staffer Taylor referenced in his testimony -- as soon as this hearing concludes.

1:56 p.m.

ABC News' Devin Dwyer notes that the president's tweets about Yovanovitch have made an impact on the hearing as it goes into the afternoon.

"If there was any doubt how damaging Republicans believe the president’s real-time tweet attack on Yovanovitch could be, just listen to them lavish her with empathy and gratitude one by one," he said in analysis on FiveThirtyEight.com.

Yovanavitch also questioned the president's broader comments about her in response to Republican Rep. Brad Wenstrup of Ohio who repeated questions from multiple Republicans about whether the president has the right to appoint and remove ambassadors as he wishes.

"What I'd like to say is, while I obviously don't dispute that the president has the right to withdraw an ambassador at any time for any reason, but what I do wonder is why it was necessary to smear my reputation, falsely?" Yovanovitch said.

1:32 p.m.

Rep. Devin Nunes, R-California, in a quick exchange, pointed out that Yovanovitch served at the president's discretion -- which the ambassador didn't dispute.

“Are you against political appointed ambassadors? Is it not the president's prerogative to appoint whoever he wants in any country?” Nunes asked.

“First of all, I am not against political ambassadors. Just to be clear,” Yovanovitch responded.

“I just wanted to clear that up,” he said.

In the next round, Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn, pushed back, again questioning the circumstances, and suggesting she was removed because she stood in the way of the investigations POTUS sought.

"Now, it's the president's defense, and it's emerging from my Republican colleagues today, that this is all okay. Because as the president so mem -- memorably put it in his tweet today, it is a U.S. President's absolute right to appoint ambassadors,” Himes said. “I'm a little troubled by this idea of an absolute right, because that doesn't feel to me like the system of government we have here. I think that how and why we exercise our powers and rights matters."

Before the end of the GOP round, Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, again returned to the whistleblower, submitting more than half a dozen articles into the congressional record of the hearing quoting Schiff comments about the whistleblower testifying earlier this fall.

1:28 p.m.

White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham defended the president's tweet about Yovanovitch during the hearing, saying it was not witness intimidation.

“The tweet was not witness intimidation, it was simply the President’s opinion, which he is entitled to," she said in a statement. "This is not a trial, it is a partisan political process - or to put it more accurately, a totally illegitimate, charade stacked against the President. There is less due process in this hearing than any such event in the history of our country. It’s a true disgrace.”

Yovanovitch said it's been a "very, very difficult time" since leaving her post in Ukraine and has faced attacks against her. She said she's generally a private person and declined to address how the situation has impacted her family.

"In my line of work, perhaps in your line of work as well, all we have is our reputation. So this has been a very painful period," she said.

1:18 p.m.

Castor asked Yovanovitch about a posts from a Ukrainian minister critical of Trump.

Republicans have repeatedly mentioned this post from Arsen Avakov, to help explain why Trump may have felt hostile towards Ukraine.

Avakov also happens to be the official who told Yovanovitch to watch her back and look out for Rudy Giuliani and his Ukrainian-American associates, per her October testimony.

Yovanovitch, in her response to Castor, seemed to make note of Trump's aggressive tweet this morning - prompting laughter from Democrats and the audience.

"Looking back on his comments in hindsight, do you see how that might create a perception that a very influential Ukranian was, was, you know, advocating against then-candidate Trump?" Castor asked.

"That he was doing what? I'm sorry?," Yovanovitch responded.

"Just advocating that was out to get him. I mean, he was, he was -- He said some real nasty things," Castor said.

"Well, you know, sometimes that happens on social media," she responded.

1:01 p.m.

The hearing room erupted in laughter when Yovanovitch was asked about a Ukrainian official who had said "nasty" things about Trump.

The Republican counsel was trying to substantiate President Donald Trump's belief that Ukraine tried to undermine his election efforts in 2016. Yovanovitch said "Well, you know, sometimes that happens on social media."

Trump had tweeted at Yovanovitch earlier, something she described as "intimidating."

On whether Ukraine opposed Trump, Yovanovitch testified that it's true some Ukrainian officials have criticized Trump, but she referred to those as "isolated incidents" and said she did not believe there was a coordinated effort on par with Russia. Yovanovitch pointed to U.S. intelligence, which found Russia's government aggressively tried to sway voters in favor of Trump.

According to other witnesses, Trump frequently spoke about Ukraine in unfavorable terms because they said he believed the government orchestrated an effort against him in the 2016 election.

Yovanovitch said she would not have recommended an investigation into Hunter Biden had she remained Ukraine ambassador.

12:41 p.m.

GOP counsel Steve Castor is now questioning Yovanovitch, in an extended 45-minute round of questioning.

Before he began, Rep. Devin Nunes tried to delegate his time to Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y. Schiff stopped him: Under the resolution passed by the House several weeks ago, only committee counsel and Schiff and Nunes are allowed to participate in the extended 45-minute round of questioning.

Stefanik is making the case that President Donald Trump's desire to investigate Hunter Biden's work on a Ukraine gas company was fair game because even the Obama administration raised concerns about the appearance of a conflict of interest.

She is referencing a warning in 2015 by the State Department's George Kent warned that Hunter Biden's work could be seen as a conflict because his father, Joe Biden, was vice president and working on Ukraine issues. No evidence has been surfaced of wrongdoing.

Stefanik says "for the millions of Americans watching," Obama's own State Department was "so concerned" that they raised the issue while preparing Yovanovitch for her Senate confirmation.

According to the rules for the impeachment inquiry approved in a full House vote several weeks ago, the chairman and ranking member can delegate part of their 45 minutes to counsel, but not other members. After the 45-minute rounds each member of the committee has 5 minutes for questions.

Despite those rules, Republicans immediately seized on Schiff's actions, as they continue to criticize the process of these hearings put forward by Democrats. As Republicans are now attempting to play up this exchange on social media – ABC News’ Benjamin Siegel reports dozens of Republicans, including Stefanik and the RNC, are tweeting about it. A senior aide to Speaker Pelosi is calling them out for the "disingenuous stunt."

One GOP aide appeared to equate it with the infamous Warren-McConnell exchange on the Senate floor in 2017, when the majority leader appeared to shut down the senator. It became a viral moment for Warren that she continues to reference on the 2020 trail, ABC News' Benjamin Siegel reports.

12:40 p.m.

Yovanovitch testified that she had never met Rudy Giuliani associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman but understood that they were working with Giuliani to try to remove her from her post.

Parnas and Fruman were trying to create new business opportunities in exporting liquified natural gas to Ukraine when the two were arrested. They have been charged with campaign finance violations in the Southern District of New York. Both men have pleaded not guilty and prosecutors say the case remains under investigation.

Yovanovitch said it was "unclear" to her why they wanted her removed. She also said it was unusual that the two never went to the embassy to seek assistance and "get the lay of the land."

12:21 p.m.

At 12:21 p.m. Schiff gaveled the hearing back into order. Republicans and Ranking Member Devin Nunes now have 45 minutes for questions.

Republican Devin Nunes is thanking Yovanovitch for her "performance" and noting she doesn't have first-hand knowledge of the allegations central to the impeachment inquiry. Yovanovitch had already been ordered to leave Ukraine prior to several key events, including the White House order in July to freeze on military aid and Trump's July 25 phone call with Ukraine's president in which he asked for a "favor" and pressed Ukraine to investigate the Bidens.

The Republican counsel, Steve Castor, is opening his line of questioning of Yovanovitch by thanking her for her service and recognizing her 33 years of service.

12:20 p.m.

With Democrats decrying the president's tweets this morning as "witness intimidation," make note of the fact that a jury situated between the White House and the Capitol just determined one of the president's oldest friends, Roger Stone, did just that, ABC News' Lucien Bruggeman says.

One of the seven counts for which Stone was just found guilty was witness intimidation. The charge is based on his efforts to "attempt to corruptly persuade another person" subpoenaed to testify before a congressional committee...

11:23 a.m.

ABC News' George Stephanopoulos says that based on his experience working in the White House during the conflict in Mogadishu, Somalia "the idea that "somehow a junior foreign service officer could have anything to do with the situation in that country is beyond absurd."

ABC News has asked Yovanovitch's lawyers to confirm her role at the U.S. embassy in Mogadishu and the exact dates.

But as her first tour of duty as a Foreign Service officer, it's very likely that she was a consular officer - processing visa and passport applications and providing other consular services, like repatriation of an American's remains or visiting imprisoned Americans.

To blame her for the violence, famine, and chaos in Somalia is absurd, but especially because she would have likely have been in this kind of role, ABC News' State Department reporter Conor Finnegan says in an analysis.

Yovanovitch started in the Foreign Service in 1986, she likely had a year of language training before heading out - meaning she likely would've been there from 1987 to 1989 or so.

Somalia's civil war began in 1991, but there were violent guerrilla attacks by competing opposition groups during the 1980's against the ruling military junta. When the junta collapsed in 1991, those opposition groups turned on each other. Amid that civil war, there was a severe famine -- leading George HW Bush to send in US Marines in 1992, but they were withdrawn by Bill Clinton in 1993 after militias shot down two Black Hawk helicopters - with the US officially closing its embassy* in 1994.

That embassy reopened last December -- with a career Foreign Service officer as the first U.S. ambassador in Mogadishu in decades -- and other brave Foreign Service officers staffing the new embassy despite the ongoing violence and the threat of terror attacks by al Shabaab.

11:08 a.m.

Two of President Trump's strongest GOP defenders in the House downplayed the impact of the president's Twitter attack against Yovanovitch, ABC News' Ben Siegel reports from outside the hearing room.

"I don't think it's going to influence anyone in any particular fashion," Rep. Mark Meadows, R-North Carolina, told ABC News. "We're hearing about her time that was prior to holding up the aid ... to suggest that there's a whole lot of relevant testimony as it relates to the impeachable offenses that Democrats have alleged, I don't see it being relevant."

Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-New York, instead criticized Adam Schiff, accusing him of theatrics and cherry-picking the first part of Trump's tweet without showing Yovanovitch the second half.

"Adam Schiff can't help himself, he didn't read the entire tweet," he said. "He will cherry-pick out to a witness who hasn't read it, who doesn't have it in front of them." Zeldin wouldn't say whether Trump's broadside was constructive, or whether it helped the GOP case this morning in the hearing.

"The president is going to defend himself. It doesn't matter what Bill Clinton and his advice is," he said.

Asked if he thought Yovanovitch was a bad ambassador, he declined to say. "Personally, I'm not an expert on every single assignment, and every last fact her time in each of those countries to be able to answer."

10:44 a.m.

ABC News’ Rick Klein notes that Trump could have hurt his case by tweeting about Yovanovitch in the middle of her testimony.

“It seems to me that Trump did about the worst thing he could have done for himself by tweeting an attack on Yovanovitch in the middle of the hearing. Reminds me of all the advice he got to not attack Mueller… only to attack Mueller, over and over and over and over,” he says.

ABC News’ Mary Bruce notes that Republicans have so far avoided personal attacks against Yovanovitch, in part because of the past attacks targeting her.

10:27 a.m.

Schiff is allowing Yovanovitch to respond to Trump's tweets. He is reading the president's tweets out loud.

"Would you like to respond to the president's attack that everywhere you went 'turned bad?'"

"I don't think I have such powers," she said, adding that where she's been she believes she's made the places she's been "demonstrably better." "demonstrably better."

"It's very intimidating."

Schiff responded by saying "I want you to know, ambassador, that some of us here take witness intimidation very seriously."

10:44 a.m.

ABC News’ Rick Klein notes that Trump could have hurt his case by tweeting about Yovanovitch in the middle of her testimony.

“It seems to me that Trump did about the worst thing he could have done for himself by tweeting an attack on Yovanovitch in the middle of the hearing. Reminds me of all the advice he got to not attack Mueller… only to attack Mueller, over and over and over and over,” he says.

ABC News’ Mary Bruce notes that Republicans have so far avoided personal attacks against Yovanovitch, in part because of the past attacks targeting her.

10:36 a.m.

At 10:36 a.m. the committee began a recess for votes in the House. The break is expected to last about an hour.

10:35 a.m.

In a September tweet, Trump wrote that Biden demanded "the Ukrainian Government fire a prosecutor who was investigating his son, or they won't get a very large amount of U.S. money."

ABC News' Mike Levine at the time reported that this accusation is misleading, as there was widespread and global criticism of the Ukrainian prosecutor general at the time. In other words, there were grounds for Biden to urge his dismissal that had nothing to do with his son. Several high-profile Western leaders have said Biden's recommendation was prudent.

According to testimony by U.S. envoy Kurt Volker and others, Biden’s position was backed by other international powers that agreed that Viktor Shokin was ignoring corruption and needed to go.

10:25 a.m.

ABC News’ Rick Klein is offering analysis for ABC News partner FiveThirtyEight. A lot of time is being spent discussing Yovanovitch’s personal reaction to the events, he notes.

“I get that Yovanovitch is a compelling witness for Democrats. But I wonder why they are spending so much time talking about her feelings today. You can’t impeach a president for hurting people’s feelings, even really talented and critical ambassadors,” Klein says.

ABC News’ Mary Bruce and Ben Siegel point out that Nunes did not directly mention her in his opening statement and that Yovanovitch could be a sympathetic witness for Democrats.

“To state the obvious, this attack from the president is the opposite of how Republicans wanted to play this,” Bruce notes.

“They have been hesitant to go after Yovanovitch personally. And after her strong opening statement, it's clear why they would not want to go after her prior work or character.

10:24 a.m.

Yovanovitch says it's not true she was "bad-mouthing" Trump and that she was rattled by false accusations in conservative media outlets that she was protecting corruption in Ukraine. "These attacks were being repeated by the president himself and his son," Donald Trump Jr., she said.

Her concern was that her authority in Ukraine was being undercut. She said she went to her superiors at the State Department asking that they defend her.

She says she never heard concerns from the State Department about her job performance. But that a statement of support was never issued because of fear that Trump would undermine it in a tweet.

10:23 a.m.

Yovanovitch said she was “shocked and devastated” when she learned Trump called her “bad news” on the July 25 call with Ukrainian President Zelenskiy.

“It was a terrible moment,” when she learned about the call, she said. “A person who saw me actually reading the transcript said that the color drained from my face, I think I even had a physical reaction. I -- I think, you know, even now words kind of fail me.”

She also said she saw it as a vague threat when Trump said she "would go through some things."

10:09 a.m.

Trump is now tweeting attacks on Yovanovitch blaming her for awful world events in places she was stationed.

ABC News’ Katherine Faulders points out that his tweet includes inaccurate claims that Ukranian president Zelenskiy apoke unfavorably about Yovanovitch in their call on July 25. Trump was the one on the call that called the ambassador “bad news.”

10:06 a.m.

Yovanovitch is describing the moment she learned she was being recalled from Ukraine, given the reason that the president "has lost confidence in you." Shaking her head, she said, "that was, you know, a terrible thing to hear."

She also was told that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo could no longer "protect her." She repeated the feeling that it was "terrible." "It was not the way I wanted my career to end," she told the committee.

10:03 a.m.

Yovanovitch is testifying that President Donald Trump's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, openly embraced people inside Ukraine known to be corrupt.

One of those people is Yuriy Lutsenko, a former Ukrainian prosecutor whom the State Department has accused of having a role in the manufacture of fake passports.

When asked if Lutsenko was among those who "coordinated" with Giuliani to "peddle false accusations against you as well as the Bidens," Yovanovitch said "yes, that's my understanding."

9:50 a.m.

Yovanovitch agreed her ouster could create a chilling effect for other ambassadors seeking to address corruption around the world.

“Is it fair to say that other ambassadors and others of lesser rank who served the united States and embassies around the world might look at this and think if I take on corrupt people in these countries that could happen to me?” Schiff asked.

“I think that's a fair statement, yes,” Yovanovitch responded.

ABC News’ congressional correspondent Mary Bruce highlights that in the midst of her powerful personal story, Yovanovitch is delivering a harsh message to Secretary of State Pompeo, who of course refused to stand up for her, despite the urging of his own top aide.

"The State Department is being hollowed out from within at a competitive and complex time on the world stage. This is not a time to undercut our diplomats. It is the responsibility of the department's leaders to stand up for the institution and the individuals who make that institution still today the most effective diplomatic force in the world,” Yovanovitch said.

9:44 a.m.

Yovanovitch says she had only three contacts with Rudy Giuliani, who joined the president's legal team in mid April 2018. "I do not understand Mr. Giuliani's motives for attacking me, not can I offer an opinion on whether he believed the allegations he spread about me."

Yovanovitch says attacks on civil servants is leading to a crisis within the State Department.

“This is not a time to undercut our diplomats,” she said when discussing how unfilled positions and low morale impacts their work on foreign policy.

9:42 a.m.

Yovanovitch says corrupt individuals oversees found "Americans willing to partner with them." And she is denying that she ever delivered a "do not prosecute" list to Ukraine's former prosecutor. In her opening statement she said U.S. "anti-corruption efforts got in the way of a desire for profit or power," and "Ukrainians who preferred to play by the old, corrupt rules sought to remove me."

"What continues to amaze me is that they found Americans willing to partner with them and, working together, they apparently succeeded in orchestrating the removal of a U.S. Ambassador. How could our system fail like this? How is it that foreign corrupt interests could manipulate our government?"

She says she doesn't understand Giuliani's motives for attacking her but believed they were "suspect" and came from people with "questionable motives."

9:35 a.m.

Ambassador Marie “Masha” Yovanovitch is recalling the hardships of serving as a U.S. diplomat in foreign countries whose governments are often faltering and in situations are dangerous. On Ukraine, she is describing going to its “front line” multiple times “to show the American flag” and witness first hand the country’s attempts to fend off Russian aggression.

“The U.S. is the most powerful country in the history of the world, in large part because of our values,” she says.

"The history is not written yet, but Ukraine could move out of Russia's orbit," she said.

9:33 a.m.

In her opening statement Ambassador Marie “Masha” Yovanovitch shared multiple times she worked in difficult posts as a Foreign Service officer, including incidents when a gunman attacked an embassy where she was serving and being caught in crossfire during an attempted coup in Russia.

“It took us three tries, me without a helmet or body armor,to get into a vehicle to go to the embassy. We went because the ambassador asked us to come,” she said.

Yovanovitch said that between August 2016 and May 2019 she visited the front lines between Ukraine and Russia ten times, saying she wanted to show the American flag and see how U.S. aid was being put to use. GOP Reps. Stefanik, Conaway and Jordan repeatedly tried to interject after the opening statement from Nunes, raising "points of order" to question Schiff's actions in the last hearing.

He parried them all -- but a much feistier beginning to today's hearing - and much more GOP focus on the process, ABC News' Benjamin Siegel reports.

9:30 a.m.

The April call between Presidents Trump and Zelenskiy is mostly congratulatory around Zelenskiy’s win, according to the rough transcript released by the White House. Republicans may claim, based on this, that the president invited Zelensky to the White House in their first conversation - which on the surface would seem to undermine the case that a meeting was being used as leverage for investigations.

“When you’re settled in and ready, I’d like to invite you to the White House...” Trump says according to the transcript.

Multiple witnesses have testified, however, that a meeting was in fact later dangled as leverage along with aid.

White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement to the pool: “The President will be watching Congressman Nunes’ opening statement, but the rest of the day he will be working hard for the American people.”

9:27 a.m.

Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif. is recounting the president's first phone call with Ukraine's president from April 21, which the White House released as the hearing began. In that call, the two presidents exchange pleasantries and the tone is very upbeat.

That early phone call is not at the heart of the ongoing investigation. It wasn't until later that the Pentagon and State Department approved nearly $400 million in military aid and Trump's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani publicly floated an unsubstantiated theory that Ukraine -- not Russia -- meddled in the 2016 election. The military aid wasn't frozen until July, shortly before Trump's subsequent phone call to Ukraine's president.

Schiff swore in Ambassador Marie “Masha” Yovanovitch and she is giving her opening statement to the committee.

“I come before you as an American citizen who has spent the majority of my life – 33 years – to service to the country,” she says.

9:25 a.m.

Rep. Devin Nunes, R-California, is hitting many of the same notes as his opening statement on Wednesday, accusing Democrats of a maniacal focus of impeaching a "duly-elected president," and trumpeting "Second and third-hand information" of diplomats rather than the "the record" of the president's phone call.

Nunes also is reading out the transcript of the first phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy -- which the White House happened to release as this hearing began.

9:24 a.m.

Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Devin Nunes, R-Calif. accuses Democrats of a double standard. He says they pursued the Russia investigation based on unsubstantiated foreign-based intelligence, but “ignore Ukrainian election meddling.”

“They are blind to the blaring signs of corruption,” surrounding Democrat Joe Biden’s son.

Nunes is dismissing the findings of U.S. intelligence in these statements. While some Ukrainian politicians did support Clinton over Trump in largely public ways, U.S. intelligence and a bipartisan Senate inquiry found that Russian operatives -- at the behest of their government -- engaged in a far more widespread, invasive and secretive campaign to sway voters in support of Trump.

On Biden, it is correct that Biden in 2016 pressured Ukraine to fire the prosecutor general, Viktor Shokin, and threatened to withhold nearly $1 billion in U.S. aid if Shokin wasn't removed. But according to testimony by U.S. envoy Kurt Volker and others, Biden’s position was in line with U.S. policy and backed by other international powers that agreed Shokin was ignoring corruption and needed to go. No evidence has surfaced that Joe Biden acted to help his son, nor that his Hunter Biden violated any laws, and the Bidens deny any wrongdoing.

9:22 a.m.

ABC News' Political Director Rick Klein notes a key passage from House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff's, D-Calif opening statement: “The question before us is not whether Donald Trump could recall an American ambassador with a stellar reputation for fighting corruption in Ukraine, but why would he want to?” The issue with that, though, is Republicans would argue it doesn’t matter, Klein says. He’s president, and gets to do things like this as he likes.

9:14 a.m.

Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Devin Nunes, R-Calif. criticized the hearings as “TV spectacles” in his opening statement, continuing Republican arguments that the impeachment inquiry is a distraction from other issues.

He said Democrats had already decided to impeach President Donald Trump before concerns about his July 25 call with Ukranian President Zelenskiy surfaced, saying they’re trying to fulfill their “Watergate fantasies.”

Nunes is accusing Democrats of trying to fulfill their "Watergate fantasies." This is a reference to the investigation of President Richard Nixon. The California Republican says their "whole case" relies on "second-hand" and "third-hand" information."

9:09 a.m.

House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff, D-Calif. began the second public hearing in the impeachment inquiry.

Schiff described Yovanovitch as an “exemplary officer” in his opening statement. Yovanovitch is expected to address the circumstances around her departure from the post amid attacks in conservative media and by Ukraine's former public prosecutor, who accused her of giving him a "do not prosecute" list and blocking him from traveling to the U.S. to investigate Democrats after she publicly criticized the country's lack of progress in tackling corruption.

This description of Yovanovitch is intentional in making the case that Trump and his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, targeted her because she wasn't willing to play along. "Why did Rudy Giuliani want her gone, and why would Trump?" Schiff asked.

Rep. Schiff said the president shouldn't use his powers to "destroy others to advance his personal or political interests."

8:36 a.m.

Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch arrived on Capitol Hill ahead of her public testimony in the ongoing impeachment inquiry.

Background

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., on Wednesday said she was the target of a "smear campaign" by the president's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani.

A Democratic official working on the impeachment inquiry described Yovanovitch, a veteran diplomat, as an "anti-corruption champion" who was "targeted for doing her job."

"I do not know Mr. Giuliani's motives for attacking me," she said in last month's closed-door deposition, according to a transcript of the closed-door hearing released by Democrats. "But individuals who have been named in the press as contacts of Mr. Giuliani may well have believed that their personal financial ambitions were stymied by our anti-corruption policy in Ukraine."

She was removed from her post before the July phone call between President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, but Democrats believe she could help highlight the efforts of Giuliani and other officials working in the "irregular" policy channel to pressure Ukraine to launch investigations into the Biden family and the 2016 election.

In her closed-door deposition, Yovanovitch, who is still a State Department employee, told lawmakers that she was targeted in a "concerted campaign," and that she had done nothing wrong in her post.

She also said she felt threatened after Trump mentioned her in the July phone call with Ukraine's leader -- telling Zelenskiy that she was "bad news" and was "going to go through some things."

"I didn't know what it meant," she said, according to the transcript of her testimony. "I was very concerned. I still am."

Yovanovitch told investigators she was informed that the State Department would not issue a statement defending her because of concerns it would be undermined by the White House.

"I was told there was caution about any kind of statement, because it could be undermined," she told lawmakers.

Several of Yovanovitch's former colleagues have vouched for her in both public and private impeachment depositions and hearings.

Michael McKinley, a former adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and a career diplomat, told House investigators in a closed session on Oct. 16 that he resigned because of the State Department's unwillingness to defend career diplomats.

He also told lawmakers under oath he that approached Pompeo repeatedly to raise concerns about the lack of support for Yovanovitch and did not get a response.

"From the time that Ambassador Yovanovitch departed Ukraine until the time that he came to tell me that he was departing, I never heard him say a single thing about his concerns with respect to the decision that was made," Pompeo said in an appearance on ABC's This Week on Oct. 20. "Not once, George, did Ambassador McKinley say something to me during that entire time period."

Republicans have defended the removal of Yovanovitch, arguing that Trump was well within his rights as president to assign and remove U.S. ambassadors from overseas posts.

Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-Texas, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, said in Wednesday's hearing that Trump "very clearly has the constitutional authority" to hire and fire ambassadors.

"Most everybody apparently understands that, but it doesn't include House Democrats," he said.

Yovanovitch appears on the Hill after the release of a new report from the State Department inspector general on retaliation against career officials.

The report from the independent watchdog on Thursday found that senior agency officials appointed by Trump retaliated against a career employee because of her perceived national origin and political views, based off allegations in a conservative media article.

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Luka Banda/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- Marie "Masha" Yovanovitch, a longtime career diplomat, was serving as U.S. ambassador to Ukraine last spring when she was abruptly ordered home and told that she had lost the confidence of the president. President Donald Trump in a subsequent phone call to Ukraine’s president called her "bad news" and said "she’s going to go through some things."

On Friday, she got the chance to tell her side of the story as part of the ongoing House impeachment inquiry.

Here are three takeaways:

Yovanovitch directly disputed conspiracy theories embraced by Trump.

Yovanovitch repeatedly knocked down suggestions by Republicans that Ukrainian politicians were part of a coordinated, state-sponsored effort to undermine Trump.

While true that some prominent politicians in Ukraine had criticized the president, she described those critiques as “isolated incidents” that are common when it comes to public service.

“That does not mean that someone is or a government is undermining either a campaign or interfering in elections,” she said.

Yovanovitch also pointed to U.S. intelligence that found Russian operatives -- at the behest of their government -- engaged in a far more widespread, invasive and secretive campaign to sway voters in support of Trump.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, could have been trying to "throw off the scent" that Russia was behind election interference and create an "alternative narrative" that Ukraine was to blame, she said.

Yovanovitch added she would not have recommended an investigation into Hunter Biden had she remained Ukraine's ambassador. She said Hunter Biden’s work with a Ukraine gas company does represent the appearance of a conflict of interest, but didn’t warrant a corruption probe.

“The Obama administration did not ask me to help the Clinton campaign or harm the Trump campaign,” she said. “Nor would I have taken such steps if they had.”

Republicans and Democrats thanked her for her service, as Trump knocked her on Twitter

A long-running theme in the hearing was Yovanovitch’s 33 years in public service. Republicans went to great lengths to acknowledge her work as a career diplomat.

But the hearing was underway for only an hour when Trump lobbed tweets aimed at her, claiming that "everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad."

"Would you like to respond to the president's attack that everywhere you went 'turned bad’?" California Rep. Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, asked Yovanovitch.

"I don't think I have such powers," she said, adding that she believes her and her colleagues have made the places she's been "demonstrably better."

Schiff later told reporters he thought Trump’s tactic was "witness intimidation." During the hearing, he asked Yovanovitch whether such tweets might discourage others from coming forward with allegations of wrongdoing.

"Well, it's very intimidating," she said.

"It's designed to intimidate, is it not?" Schiff asked.

"I mean, I can't speak to what the president is trying to do," she said. "But I think the effect is to be intimidating."

White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said: “The tweet was not witness intimidation, it was simply the President’s opinion, which he is entitled to.”

No GOP lawmaker though appeared to follow the president’s lead in attacking her personally.

Yovanovitch says she had three contacts with Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and remains in the dark as to his motives.

One allegation in the impeachment inquiry is that Giuliani -- acting on behalf of the president -- sidelined American diplomats and official U.S. policy to pursue the widely debunked theory that corrupt Ukrainian politicians interfered in the 2016 presidential election to help the Democratic candidate, former Sec. of State Hillary Clinton.

Yovanovitch said she only had contact with Trump’s lawyer three times and not involving the allegations at hand.

"I do not understand Mr. Giuliani's motives for attacking me, not can I offer an opinion on whether he believed the allegations he spread about me," she said. "Clearly no one at the State Department did."

Yovanovitch added, "What I can say is that Mr. Giuliani should have known those claims were suspect -- coming as they reportedly did from individuals with questionable motives and with reason to believe that their political and financial ambitions would be stymied by our anti-corruption policy in Ukraine."

She described the toll on her personally and professionally

Republicans repeatedly pointed out that it was well within Trump’s right as president to recall Yovanovitch for any reason.

Yovanovitch testified this was indeed the case. But at multiple points in the hearing, she described the difficulty of being essentially fired, without any reason given other than she had lost the confidence of the president. She also wondered why Trump and Giuliani went out of their way to try to discredit her personally.

“In my line of work, perhaps in your line of work as well, all we have is our reputation,” she told lawmakers. “And so this has been a very painful period.”

She later added: “Why it was necessary to smear my reputation falsely?”

Yovanovitch says her experience in Ukraine could green light corruption abroad

In her opening statement, Yovanovitch described her job in patriotic and inspiring terms but laid out the risks involved. She recalled being thrown into dangerous situations without the protection of body armor or weapons. And in Ukraine, she described going to its border with Russia 10 times to wave the American flag to make clear that the U.S. opposed Moscow’s attempt to expand its power.

Most concerning though is that American diplomats are being put in dangerous situations without the full backing of the U.S. government, she maintained. She warned that under Trump the State Department was being "hollowed out from within.”

"Sometimes we get people really angry with us," Yovanovich said of foreign officials. "It's uncomfortable, and we are doing our jobs … And if they realize that they can just remove us, they’re going to do that."

When asked if during her 33 years as a foreign service officer if she had ever heard of a president recalling an ambassador without cause and because of allegations the State Department knew to be false, she replied: "No."

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ABC News(LOS ANGELES) -- The special election to fill California Rep. Katie Hill's vacant seat is shaping up, with Cenk Uygur, the founder and host of liberal media company The Young Turks, announcing his bid for the seat, joining George Papadopoulos, the former Trump campaign aide who was convicted in the Mueller probe, and former Rep. Steve Knight, the Republican incumbent Hill defeated in 2018.

"I'm going to represent those people in a way they have not seen before. I will not be a standard politician. I will fight for them. I'm going to fight to get money of of politics, and I'm going to call it like it is," Uygur said Thursday during a livestream of his show after he switched from co-hosting to being interviewed about his decision by his co-host, Ana Kasparian.

Just before midnight Thursday night, Uygur tweeted that his campaign had already passed $100,000 in donations from 3,770 contributions.

Hill joined Congress after the most recent election as part of the "Blue Wave," flipping California's 25th Congressional District and helping Democrats take control of the House, but she submitted her letter of resignation on Oct. 27 following the House Ethics Committee opening an investigation into Hill over allegations she had inappropriate relations with a congressional staffer, a violation of House rules. Hill denied the allegation, but said leaving Congress was "the best thing for my constituents, my community, and our country."

The freshman congresswoman's last day in office was Nov. 1. Friday.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Friday that the primary election would be on March 3, the same day as the state's presidential primary. The state's election law makes this a notable race to watch regardless of the candidates now running.

The state conducts what are colloquially referred to as "Jungle Primaries." Instead of holding separate Republican and Democratic primaries, all candidates are on the ballot and whoever the top two vote-getters are advance to the general election.

This means that two Democrats or two Republicans could face off in a general election, and a crowded field on either side could cause a vote split that leads to a one party race come the general election. Additionally, if a candidate was able to secure a majority of the vote share in a primary, they would win the election outright.

But for this swing district with a large candidate field, an outright win seems unlikely. In the suburban Los Angeles district, Hill beat Knight by a margin of nearly eight points, but Knight held that seat for two terms, and before him, Republican Rep. Buck McKeon held the seat for more than 20 years. Before Hill, a Democrat hadn't won an election in this district since 1990.

Knight announced his comeback bid for his former seat on Saturday.

"I have always answered the call to serve and today is no exception. I am proud to announce my run to return to Congress," Knight said in a statement. "As an Army Veteran, former LAPD officer, and a dedicated public official for over 15 years, I have always put my community first. Today is no exception. I am proud to return to public service and deliver the type of representation our district deserves."

Before Knight, on Oct. 29, Papadopoulos filed with the Federal Election Commission to run for Hill's seat as a Republican. Papadopoulos served 14 days in prison for making false statements to the FBI. He was the first Trump campaign-linked individual convicted as part of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- House Democrats accused President Donald Trump of intimidating a witness testifying as part of an impeachment inquiry into his behavior after the president trashed his former ambassador to Ukraine on Twitter Friday.

 "Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad," Trump tweeted about the ambassador, as she testified before the House Intelligence Committee.

A career foreign service officer, Yovanovitch was removed from her post in Ukraine earlier this year. She previously served as ambassador to Armenia and Kyrgyzstan, and she has worked in U.S. diplomatic missions across the world, including Mogadishu, Somalia.

"She started off in Somalia, how did that go?" Trump said. "Then fast forward to Ukraine, where the new Ukrainian President spoke unfavorably about her in my second phone call with him."

The president tweeted as the ambassador testified before the House Intelligence Committee, and soon after, the committee's chair, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., read the tweets aloud.

A visibly shaken Yovanovitch said Trump's tweets were "very intimidating."

Speaking to reporters during a break in the hearing, Schiff said Trump is “once again going after this dedicated and respected career public servant in an effort to not only chill her but to show others who may come forward.”

“We take this kind of witness intimidation and obstruction inquiry very serious," Schiff added.

The White House denied Trump was engaging in witness intimidation.

"The tweet was not witness intimidation, it was simply the president’s opinion, which he is entitled to," White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement. "This is not a trial, it is a partisan political process -- or to put it more accurately, a totally illegitimate, charade stacked against the President. There is less due process in this hearing than any such event in the history of our country. It’s a true disgrace."

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said witness intimidation is undoubtedly a crime but said she couldn't comment on Trump's tweet because she hadn't seen it.

"I haven’t seen the tweet; I’m not going to comment on it, I am just commenting on what witness intimidation is," Pelosi told reporters on Friday.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., said Trump was "clearly not satisfied with only one article of impeachment.

"His choice to publicly broadcast his own, personally authored witness intimidation means he’s wants to sign up for another article on obstruction of justice, too," she tweeted.

In the president's tweets this morning, he also defended Yovanovitch's dismissal by noting he had the "absolute right to appoint ambassadors."

"They call it 'serving at the pleasure of the President,'” he wrote.

Earlier, the White House said Trump would watch the opening statement by the top Republican on the committee, Devin Nunes, R-Calif., but suggested he would tune out during the rest of the hearing, which would have included Yovanovitch's actual testimony.

"The President will be watching Congressman Nunes’ opening statement, but the rest of the day he will be working hard for the American people," White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said Friday morning.

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- A rough transcript of a congratulatory phone call President Donald Trump made this spring to Ukraine's president-elect contained no mention of corruption, despite the White House shortly after the call saying Trump had broached the subject.

The White House on Friday released the rough transcript of the call Trump made to Volodymyr Zelenskiy on April 21, after the latter had won Ukraine’s presidential election. In September, the White House released a rough transcript of a second call between the two leaders -- on July 25 -- that has played a central role in the House impeachment inquiry into Trump's behavior.

A readout of the April call that the White House provided at the time said the president "expressed his commitment to work together with President-elect Zelenskyy (sic) and the Ukrainian people to implement reforms that strengthen democracy, increase prosperity, and root out corruption."

But the rough transcript was devoid of any discussion of corruption or policy matters. Rather, much of the call consisted of Trump praising Zelenskiy's campaign after the Ukrainian compared his own election to that of Trump’s.

Trump did not raise the issue of corruption on the call despite a recommendation from the National Security Council that he do so and NSC talking points he received on the topic, according to a person familiar with the call and preparations for the conversation.

The official readout shared with the press was drafted in advance of the phone call and based on talking points and briefing materials Trump received and did not follow, the person said.

The draft statements, which are prepared by NSC legal and press teams and approved by the National Security Advisor, are typically updated to reflect the conversations.

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a National Security Council staffer who listened in on both of the president's calls with Zelenskiy, has already testified to House investigators behind closed doors that there was nothing out of the ordinary with the April call.

"The April 21st call is notable in my mind because it was actually a very good call. It was exactly what we had -- we were hoping for," Vindman said. "It was just -- everybody was happy, high-fiving from that call because we were moving in the right direction for Ukraine."

The Ukrainian president-elect invited Trump to his inauguration, while at the same time, Trump mentioned a White House visit.

“When you’re settled in and ready, I’d like to invite you to the White House,” Trump said during the roughly 16-minute call he made from Air Force One. “We’ll have a lot of things to talk about, but we’re with you all the way.”

The document released by the White House is called a “memorandum of a telephone conversation,” and the first page notes that it “is not a verbatim transcript of a discussion,” but rather a recording of the notes and recollections of” officials who were “assigned to listen and memorialize the conversation in written form as the conversation takes place.”

Minutes after the White House released the memo, the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, California Rep. Devin Nunes, read it aloud during a hearing with the former ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, as part of the House’s public impeachment inquiry proceedings. White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said that Trump planned to watch Nunes deliver his opening statement.

Grisham told ABC News nothing had been redacted or otherwise not included.

“As you can see if you look at it – it is the full transcript,” she said.

She did not respond to a request for comment as to why the White House's April 21 statement on the call said Trump brought up corruption -- while the document released today has no evidence of that.

The White House previously released a memorandum of the president’s subsequent, July 25 call with Zelenskiy, which has become a key part of the impeachment inquiry.

Trump tweeted Monday that the April call contained "tantalizing" information and argued that because it was his first call with Zelenskiy, it was therefore the "most important."

The memorandum’s release on Friday provided the White House with a piece of counter-messaging as public hearings in the impeachment inquiry continued on Capitol Hill. While the White House has sought to impede the Democrats’ probe by ordering his aides not to cooperate, Trump has pointed to the first memorandum’s release as a demonstration that he is "the most Transparent President in history."

The president's April 21 call with Zelenskiy took place the same day the Ukrainian president had won his election and came three months prior to the July 25 call now at the center of the House impeachment inquiry. The White House has previously signaled that the call's contents are mostly of a congratulatory nature.

In contrast to the April call, Vindman also told investigators that he believed the president's call with Zelenskiy on July 25 amounted to a "demand" by Trump that a foreign power investigate a U.S. citizen, in this case former Vice President Joe Biden's son, Hunter.

"I was concerned by the call. I did not think it was proper to demand that a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen, and I was worried about the implications to the U.S. Government's support of Ukraine," Vindman testified.

House investigators have requested the White House records of the April call, there is no indication that its contents are relevant to the ongoing inquiry that centers around allegations that the president sought to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political rivals.

Biden, who was expected to announce his candidacy for president at the time, officially announced it four days after the call.

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump's longtime friend and onetime campaign adviser, Roger Stone, was convicted in the only remaining case from special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

Jurors have returned a guilty verdict on all of seven counts, other counts include five counts of lying to Congress, one count of witness tampering, obstruction of a proceeding. Stone had pleaded not guilty and maintained his innocence throughout his trial in Washington, DC.

Stone's sworn testimony in September 2017 before the House Intelligence Committee forms the basis for most of the charges in his seven-count indictment, which includes allegations he misled the committee on several key elements of their probe. Stone was also charged with witness tampering by urging his former associate, Randy Credico, to exercise his Fifth Amendment rights before the committee.

With the closure of Stone's case, so ended another chapter in the special counsel's investigation. Robert Mueller and his team of prosecutors investigated Russian interference during the 2016 election and President Trump's efforts to undermine their probe for nearly two years.

Mueller brought the charges against Stone in January. Stone pleaded not guilty to them all, and once vowed he would be "vindicated" at trial.

In effect, the special counsel's probe culminated in a 448-page report made public in March. But Stone's case has remained a loose thread stemming from the nearly two-year investigation.

To that end, the trial of Roger Stone has introduced several new pieces of information about what the special counsel examined as part of its probe, including the most detailed view to date of how the Trump campaign responded to WikiLeaks' role in disseminating information hacked by the Russians.

Former Trump campaign CEO Steve Bannon, who took the stand last week, described Stone as the Trump campaign's unofficial "access point" to WikiLeaks. Rick Gates, the onetime Trump campaign deputy chairman, testified Tuesday about how the campaign responded to information Stone provided them about WikiLeaks, including multiple senior-level "brainstorming" sessions on a number of matters, including how the campaign would respond to future Wikileaks document dumps.

"The campaign was in a state of happiness" when WikiLeaks published hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee in July 2016, Gates said. "Any time you're in a campaign and damaging information comes out about your competitor, it's helpful."

Gates, who pleaded guilty to charges brought by Mueller's office, has been a central cooperating witness for the special counsel's team.

Gates testified that his boss at the time, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, instructed him to keep in touch with Stone so that the campaign, and the candidate himself, could be kept abreast of WikiLeaks' activities. Gates also recalled overhearing a phone call between Stone and then-candidate Trump on July 31, 2016, after which Trump told him "more information would be coming."

Prosecutors showed an email from Stone to Gates requesting contact information for Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, then a senior adviser to the campaign, one day after news broke that the Democratic National Committee's server had been hacked by Russians in June of 2016.

Prosecutors did not allege that Stone and Kushner ever actually met.

Stone's trial was punctuated by an appearance from New York-based comedian and radio host Randy Credico, whose testimony included references to 1950s-era television advertisements and impressions of presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. The most damning charge Stone faced was witness tampering in connection to his interactions with Credico, who he told congressional investigators was his conduit to WikiLeaks.

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US Army(WASHINGTON) -- Included in the released transcript of President Donald Trump’s phone call with Volodymyr Zelenskiy was the Ukrainian president's comment that his country was ready "to buy more Javelins from the United States for defense purposes."

What exactly is a Javelin? And why does Ukraine want more of them?

The FGM-148 Javelin is a shoulder-fired precision missile system designed to destroy tanks and other armored vehicles, as well as hovering helicopters.

In March 2018, Trump approved the $47 million sale of 210 Javelin anti-tank missiles and 37 launchers to Ukraine. The missiles were the first lethal military assistance provided to Ukraine by the United States in its fight against Russian-supported separatists in eastern Ukraine since that fighting began in 2014.

The U.S. has provided $1.5 billion in security assistance to Ukraine with the majority of it being non-lethal assistance, but Ukraine has also wanted lethal military hardware it can use against the well-equipped Russian separatists.

Since that first sale, U.S. officials confirm that there have been long-running discussions between the U.S. and Ukraine about a future purchase of more Javelins, but nothing has been finalized.

As such, Javelin missiles were not part of the $250 million military aid package to Ukraine at the center of controversial Trump call with Zelenskiy that has triggered a formal impeachment inquiry by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Known as a "fire and forget" weapon, the Javelin allows the gunner to fire the weapon and then immediately take cover. The Javelin uses its infrared guidance system to travel toward a target on its own, unlike previous shoulder-fired anti-tank weapons that had to be guided by the operator toward its target.

With a range of between 2,500 and 4,000 meters the missile is designed to strike at a tank from above where the armor is thinnest.

The missile and its launcher -- the Command Launch Unit -- together weigh 48.8 pounds, while the missile alone weighs 33 pounds.

The system can be fired by one person, but typically a two-person team is involved in its operation with one carrying the launcher and the other carrying the missile ammunition.

It also utilizes a "soft launch" where the missile is ejected from the launcher to reach a safe distance before its rockets are activated. That feature means it can also be fired from indoors in an urban battlefield.

The Javelin is primarily used by the the U.S. Army and Marine Corps, but it has also been sold to 18 partner nations, including Ukraine, France, Qatar, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.

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