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Tensions between lawmakers boiled over Friday on the second day of the public impeachment hearings, when House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., repeatedly shut down GOP Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., citing House procedure — as an astonished Ranking Member Devin Nunes, R-Calif., accused him of “gagging” the lawmaker.

Tensions between lawmakers boiled over Friday on the second day of the public impeachment hearings, when House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., repeatedly shut down GOP Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., citing House procedure — as an astonished Ranking Member Devin Nunes, R-Calif., accused him of “gagging” the lawmaker.

“This is the fifth time you have interrupted a duly-elected member of Congress,” Stefanik told Schiff, who repeatedly told her she was “not recognized” to speak.

The moment began when Nunes, as he questioned Yovanovitch, gave the remainder of his allotted time to Stefanik, who had sparred multiple times with Schiff on both Friday and during Wednesday’s first nationally televised hearing.

But as Stefanik spoke, Schiff slammed down the gavel: “The gentlewoman will suspend.”

“What is the interruption for now,” she shot back.

What followed was a back and forth between Nunes and Schiff as to whether the Republican could offer his time to a fellow member of Congress, rather than minority counsel. Stefanik repeatedly tried to speak, only for Schiff to bang his gavel again.

“You’re gagging the member from New York?” Nunes laughed at one point.

The explosive moment came during the questioning of Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine as part of the House’s impeachment inquiry into the circumstances surrounding President Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

The drama came on the back of a similarly tense morning session, where Yovanovitch pointed her finger at Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani while detailing her sudden removal from her diplomatic post, as the president fired back in realtime and said every place she worked “turned bad.”

Trump’s comments ignited an outcry from Democrats: Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff read Trump’s anti-Yovanovitch tweet during the hearing, and called it “witness intimidation.”

Yovanovitch told lawmakers, regarding the tweet: “It’s very intimidating,”

During her appearance, Yovanovitch, a career diplomat who served both Republican and Democratic presidents, relayed her story of being suddenly recalled by Trump in May, saying she believes Giuliani played a key role in telling people she was not sufficiently supportive of the president.

“I do not understand Mr. Giuliani’s motives for attacking me, nor can I offer an opinion on whether he believed the allegations he spread about me,” Yovanovitch said.

She argued the efforts against her by the president’s allies hindered her work.

“If our chief representative is kneecapped, it limits our effectiveness to safeguard the vital national security interests of the United States,” Yovanovitch said.

After the hearing started, Trump began attacking her, tweeting, “Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad.” He added, “It is a U.S. President’s absolute right to appoint ambassadors.”

At the same time the hearing began Friday, the White House released a new transcript of the president’s first call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, which showed Trump agreeing to meet with Ukraine’s president-elect — without preconditions — in the first official phone call between the two leaders.

Intelligence Committee ranking member Devin Nunes, R-Calif., read the entire letter in his opening statement. A separate call between the two leaders ignited the impeachment inquiry, and Republicans suggested the new transcript is helpful to the president’s argument he did nothing wrong in his conversations with Zelensky.

 

Source: Tensions boil over at impeachment hearing, as Nunes accuses Schiff of ‘gagging’ lawmakers

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