President Donald Trump set an incredible historical precedent on Friday, November 15, by essentially intimidating a witness in real time. House Intel Committee leader/Friend of Moby Rep. Adam Schiff paused the impeachment hearing featuring testimony from ousted U.S. ambassador to the Ukraine and 30-year career diplomat Marie Yovanovitch to read the president’s tweet reactions to the hearing.
“Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad,” Trump tweeted. “She started off in Somalia, how did that go? Then fast forward to Ukraine, where the new Ukrainian President spoke unfavorably about her in my second phone call with him. It is a U.S. President’s absolute right to appoint ambassadors.”
Schiff seized on the moment and read the tweets aloud. “Ambassador Yovanovitch, as we sit here testifying, the president is attacking you on Twitter,” the Democrat from California said. “And I’d like to give you a chance to respond. I’ll read part of one of his tweets.”
BREAKING: As Yovanovitch testifies about being undermined from within the US government and feeling threatened by the president, Chairman Schiff pauses the impeachment hearing to read President Trump's tweets attacking Yovanovitch while she was testifying. pic.twitter.com/Y5uPXW2d9g
— NBC News (@NBCNews) November 15, 2019
When he was finished reading the tweets, Schiff asked the ambassador “what effect” the president’s tweets might have “on other witnesses’ willingness to come forward and expose wrongdoing.”
“Well, it’s very intimidating,” Yovanovitch responded. “I mean, I can’t speak to what the president is trying to do, but I think the effect is to be intimidating.”
Schiff reassured her “that some of us here take witness intimidation very, very seriously.” As The Daily Beast pointed out, the president publicly attempted to smear Yovanovitch as she was testifying on live television about “the smear campaign that President Trump’s allies successfully used to oust her as U.S. ambassador to Ukraine” was effectively derailing her career.
Fox News anchors Chris Wallace and Bret Baier conceded how damning Trump’s actions appear, despite working for a network that acts as a satellite branch of the White House comms shop.
“This whole hearing turned on a dime when the president tweeted about her in real time,” Baier said. “Adam Schiff stopped the Democratic questioning to read the president’s tweet to her and get her response. Now that enabled Schiff to characterize that tweet as intimidating the witness or tampering with the witness—which is a crime—adding essentially an article of impeachment real time as this hearing is going on.”
Bret Baier: "This whole hearing turned on a dime when Trump 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." pic.twitter.com/OGZ0BPPOtD
— Lis Power (@LisPower1) November 15, 2019
“If you were not moved by the testimony of Marie Yovanovitch today, you don’t have a pulse,” Wallace said. “This is a woman who had served in seven posts for presidents of both parties over more than 30 years.”
Fox News' Chris Wallace: "If you were not moved by the testimony of Marie Yovanovitch today, you don't have a pulse. This is a woman who had served in seven posts for presidents of both parties over more than 30 years." pic.twitter.com/l7FgBQmpNi
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) November 15, 2019
At least the president doesn’t have to deal with any other bad news today.