She's the career diplomat Rudy Giuliani sought to have removed as U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, and who the president himself has called "bad news." And on Friday she arrived to testify to House committees in the escalating impeachment probe against Donald Trump. Marie Yovanovitch, who was abruptly recalled from her post in Ukraine in May, was set give a deposition to congressional investigators probing Trump's dealings with Ukraine - despite a pledge from the White House to stonewall the congressional impeachment probe. Her testimony behind closed doors is among the first of several key depositions sought by House Democrats, who are investigating whether Trump pressured Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden. Lawmakers on Friday are expected to ask Yovanovitch about what she knew about efforts by Giuliani and Trump to push Ukraine to investigate Biden and his son. Giuliani has alleged she blocked those efforts. On Thursday, two of Giuliani's associates were arrested in what New York federal prosecutors said was a scheme to illegally funnel money to a pro-Trump election committee. Lev Parnas, a Ukrainian-American businessman, and Igor Fruman, who are mentioned in the whistleblower complaint that sparked the impeachment probe, are also accused by prosecutors of acting on behalf of Ukrainian officials and using their political connections to get Yovanovitch recalled. Earlier this week, the Trump administration blocked another key witness from testifying, U.S. ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland. But his lawyers now say he will come back to testify before the House committees next Thursday.
Reuters reported exclusively on Tuesday that President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, was paid $500,000 for work he did for a company co-founded by Lev Parnas, the Ukrainian-American businessman arrested last week on campaign finance charges. That's according to Giuliani himself, who told Reuters that Parnas' company - Florida-based Fraud Guarantee - whose website says it aims to help clients “reduce and mitigate fraud” - hired Giuliani in August of 2018 to consult on Fraud Guarantee’s technologies and provide legal advice. A law enforcement source said Federal prosecutors are “examining Giuliani’s interactions” with Parnas and another Giuliani associate, Igor Fruman, who was also indicted on campaign finance charges, after the two men were arrested at Dulles Airport with one-way tickets to Europe - accused of funneling foreign money to unnamed U.S. politicians in a bid to influence U.S. relations with Ukraine. Giuliani told Reuters “I know beyond any doubt the source of the money is not any questionable source,” adding “The money did not come from foreigners." The former New York City mayor has become a key figure in the impeachment probe into the president, which was sparked by a whistleblower complaint that alleges Trump pressed Ukraine's president to investigate Trump’s political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter. For the first time since the impeachment probe began, Hunter Biden defended his overseas work in an interview with ABC News, after facing a barrage of political attacks hurled by Trump, who has for weeks asked "Where's Hunter Biden" at rallies and on his Twitter page. Trump has accused the younger Biden - without evidence - of using his father's influence to help secure foreign backing for his investments. In the ABC interview that aired Tuesday, Hunter Biden said he “did nothing wrong at all,” but conceded he may have provided an opening to attacks on his father, who is a leading contender for the Democratic Party nomination to challenge Trump in the 2020 election.
More depositions in the Democratic-led House of Representatives and more angry tweets from the Republican president on Monday, as the impeachment probe into Donald Trump cranked back up this week. Fiona Hill, the former senior director for European and Russian Affairs on Trump’s National Security Council, arrived on Capitol Hill on Monday as the latest witness summoned by the House Intelligence Committee for closed-door testimony. Hill, who stepped down from the National Security Council this past summer, is likely to be asked about the Trump administration’s removal of Marie Yovanovitch as U.S. ambassador to Ukraine. On Friday, Yovanovitch testified that she had been removed based on “unfounded and false claims” after coming under attack by Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, who had been working to get Ukraine to investigate Trump’s political rival, Joe Biden. Also on Monday, the House is scheduled to hear from Sam Kislin, an Ukrainian-American businessman with ties to Giuliani. The former mayor of New York City has become a key figure in the impeachment probe into the president, which focuses on a July 25th phone call in which Trump pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate former Vice President Biden and his son Hunter. In a series of tweets on Monday, Trump demanded to know the identity of the whistleblower who sparked the impeachment probe. Trump has denied wrongdoing. The House probe could prompt the approval of articles of impeachment leading to a trial in the Senate on whether to remove Trump from office.
President Donald Trump was defiant in the face of an impeachment probe Thursday as he sought to convert the threat to his presidency into a weapon on the campaign trail, with biting and unsupported attacks on potential Democratic challenger Joe Biden. Confronting an investigation provoked by his unprecedented calls for Ukraine and then China to assist in digging up dirt on his political rivals, Trump continued to lay into Biden and his son Hunter, whom he and his allies have accused, without evidence, of illegally profiting off his father's office. "The Bidens got rich, and that is substantiated, while America got robbed," Trump said. While the young Biden did have business interest overseas while he father was in office, there is no evidence of misconduct. Trump's adult children have faced congressional scrutiny for their foreign business dealings while their father is serving as president, and Trump still maintains ownership stakes in his family's businesses. The rally in Minneapolis, the first since Democrats began proceedings two weeks ago to remove him from office, served as a proving ground for the president as he tries to use the impeachment inquiry to energize supporters for his 2020 campaign by casting himself - and his supporters - as victims of Washington Democrats. The performance revealed a defense strategy largely detached from the allegations Trump faces. Trump spent little time defending his attempt to pressure the Ukrainian president to investigate the Bidens. Instead, he cast the impeachment fight in simpler basic terms - a battle between him and the "swamp." "They want to erase your vote like it never existed," Trump said. "They want to erase your voice, and they want to erase your future." He added, "The Democrats' brazen attempt to overthrow our government will produce a backlash at the ballot box the likes of which they have never ever seen before in the history of this country." Trump was by his own admission fired up and off script as he s...
The Gauteng education department says the incident happened five months ago at Lewisham Primary School in Krugersdorp. However, Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi visited the school on Thursday after the video was circulated. In it, a Grade 7 pupil dressed in school uniform could be seen pulling a male teacher towards him, while a female teacher tried to reprimand the pupil. "Leave the teacher, leave the teacher" the woman screamed as she intervened. "Don't touch me man. You stink. Did you bath this morning?...... This rubbish," the pupil shouted as the male teacher walked away. The pupil then screamed at the woman, demanding that she let him go so he can leave. Lesufi has appointed an inter-departmental assessment team, comprising officials from the district, the Department of Social Development, the psycho-social unit, inclusion and special schools, and education support. The team is to conduct an assessment focusing on the pupil's well-being and his academic progress. It is to identify a relevant school for him. "The Grade 7 learner was at the time suspended and taken through a disciplinary process which recommended an expulsion. A process to interact with the child's parents has commenced. The appointed team must provide a report with appropriate recommendations to the MEC on December 11 for necessary action," departmental spokesperson Steve Mabona said. The department condemned the pupil's behaviour and said it had a zero-tolerance stance towards all forms of misconduct. "We urge learners to refrain from any acts of misdemeanour."
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