Castro Questions Yovanovitch During Second Impeachment Hearing of President Trump
– As Delivered –
WASHINGTON—Congressman Joaquin Castro (TX-20), Chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Vice Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and a member of the House Intelligence and Education and Labor Committees, today had the following exchange with Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, during the highly anticipated second open impeachment hearing, where the American people continued to hear the evidence for themselves on President Trump’s abuse of power:
CASTRO: Thank you, Chairman and thank you, Ambassador for your 33 years of service to our nation. A big question here today is why you were pushed aside as Ambassador. For example, Americans know that an employer has a right to fire an employee, but they shouldn’t do it for certain reasons. You shouldn’t be fired because you’re disabled, because you’re a woman, because you’re black, and for other reasons. And I think most Americans agree that a President shouldn’t fire an ambassador, or recall an ambassador, because the ambassador is standing in his way of doing a corrupt act. So, I want to ask you did the President ever tell you why he was recalling you?
CASTRO: Did anyone at The White House ever tell you why you were being recalled?
CASTRO: Did the President ever consult you about who the good guys and the bad guys were in the Ukraine?
CASTRO: Did Secretary Pompeo ever tell you why you were being recalled?
CASTRO: And it appears in the testimony that we’ve heard in the Intelligence Committee so far, that there were a group of the President’s men, perhaps Secretary Perry, Rudy Giuliani, Ambassador Sondland, who were in on this scheme to help the President get the Bidens and Burisma investigated. And I want to put aside President Trump for just a second and ask you, in all of your years of service, have you ever come across a President, been asked by a President, or known of colleagues who were asked by an American President, to help that President get an American investigated overseas?
YOVANOVITCH: I’m not aware of that.
CASTRO: And if a President asked you to investigate a former Vice President, for this purpose, what would you have said?
YOVANOVITCH: I mean, with what I know today, I would have said no.
CASTRO: And would you have considered it an unlawful act?
YOVANOVITCH: I don’t know that it’s unlawful, per se, but I think again that that there are channels for conducting proper investigations and that would have been the best way to handle something like this.
CASTRO: But certainly it would be, it’s bizarre for a President to ask that some American be investigated by another government.
YOVANOVITCH: It’s very unusual.
CASTRO: Also you mentioned that there is corruption in Ukraine, Ukraine isn’t the only country that confronts corruption. If the people in power in a country where corruption is rampant are being asked by a foreign leader who’s got a lot of leverage over them, to conduct an investigation, could that be dangerous because they could trump up charges against someone if they wanted?
YOVANOVITCH: They could.
CASTRO: And I also want to ask you, I spoke to, um, Mr. Kent, he made a comment about selective prosecutions and what it means going forward, what kind of precedent it sets. And you’ve spoken about a dangerous precedent for The State Department and for diplomats, but I want you to help us consider the precedent going forward if there’s no consequence for President Trump or really any President who does this. What are the consequences for this country and for any American, not just a former Vice President or presidential candidate or even somebody in politics, but a person in business, who does business in Saudi Arabia or some other country, if a President is going to speak to another head of state or some foreign official, and try to get that person investigated, what does that mean for the future of the country and for Americans?
YOVANOVITCH: Well, I think that investigations, prosecutions, judicial decisions, properly should remain with investigators, prosecutors and the courts. And I think that as I said before, I think Senator Vandenberg, when he said that politics needs to stop at the water’s edge, I think he was right in that.
CASTRO: I yield back to the Chairman.
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