Trump tries to intimidate impeachment witness Marie Yovanovitch in real time


Trump made things worse for himself Friday when he tweeted out an attack on the former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine as she was testifying.

Donald Trump on Friday made his already perilous situation even worse when he tweeted attacks at former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch as she was testifying in the impeachment inquiry — a move that many are calling witness intimidation.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), who is chairing the impeachment proceedings, read Trump's Twitter attacks against Yovanovitch out loud at the hearing, and allowed her to respond to Trump's allegation that all of the countries Yovanovitch was stationed in "turned bad."

Yovanovitch responded that she didn't think she "had such powers" to make everything worse and agreed that getting attacked by Trump is "very intimidating."

"You've shown the courage to come forward today testifying, notwithstanding the fact that you were urged by the White House or State Department not to, notwithstanding the fact that as you testified earlier, the president implicitly threatened you in that call record, and now the president in real time is attacking you," Schiff said.

The hearing recessed so members of Congress could vote shortly after this exchange, allowing reporters to ask GOP lawmakers whether they thought Trump's witness intimidation was appropriate.

Lawmakers like Reps. Mike Conaway of Texas and Elise Stefanik of New York — members of the House Intelligence Committee who have been trying to protect Trump — agreed that Trump was out of line.

Conaway said that tweeting intimidating comments at Yovanovitch was "not something I would do." Stefanik said she disagrees with Trump's tweet.

Some Republicans did step up to defend Trump, though their arguments were less than ideal.

Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) said that Schiff read Trump's tweets out lout to try to make Yovanovitch cry so she'd look more sympathetic.

"They wanted her to cry for the cameras," Zeldin said.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), who was moved to the House Intelligence Committee for the impeachment hearings specifically to defend Trump, said it's not possible for Trump to have engaged in witness intimidation and appeared to blame Schiff.

"The witness is testifying," Jordan said. "She wouldn't even know about the quote if Mr. Schiff hadn't read the tweet."

But even the coverage on Fox News — a network known to go to bat for Trump — was bad.

Fox News' Bret Baier said the "whole hearing turned on a dime when the president tweeted about her real time."

"That enabled Schiff to then characterize that tweet as intimidating the witness, or tampering with the witness, which is a crime, adding essentially an article of impeachment real time," Baier said on air.

Other guests on Fox News, including Kenneth Starr — who ran the investigation that led to former President Bill Clinton's impeachment — called Trump's tweet "quite injurious," saying that Trump displayed "extraordinarily poor judgment."

Even Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), one of Trump's biggest defenders, declined to defend Trump's tweet.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.