An Improved Process

Saturday, November 16, 2019

For much of yesterday I sat riveted before a television as former Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch testified before the House Intelligence Committee. I couldn’t pull myself from this witness. She’s soft-spoken, intelligent, and articulate about her former role as the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine. Her precision in explaining her role in the Foreign Service equally resisted requests to theorize or assume.

Many times in the past I’ve tried to watch witnesses testify before the House or Senate. Often those being questions are slippery and confounding, or simply refuse to answer on fear of self-incrimination. The usual procedures for questioning easily turn into useless efforts.

For the most recent two testimonials (Taylor and Kent preceded Yovanovich) a significant change in procedures occurred. Instead of allowing each side the usual five-minute, alternating-time-blocks to question, for Taylor, Kent, and Yovanovich, each side had 45-minute blocks to question without interruptions to oppose. This changed process made watching much more informative.

The change in process was another element holding me. Each side allotted its 45 minutes to a single attorney who conducted all questioning. Although some squabbling still occurred, those single-questioner sessions were more clear and straightforward.

Above all, the career woman who stood, impressively knowledgeable and courageous, while being questioned for over a five-hours that included conflicts between sides. Yovanovitch surely is a role model for those who will follow. In time ahead, the changes in procedures will be interesting to watch for. Future House and Senate testimonial events will teach if changed questioning and time blocks may continue.

For me it was a rare experience, managing to stay, watch, and listen throughout a committee hearing.

Dear Friends: Quality speaks for itself, whether an individual or a process. Diana

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