WASHINGTON — What could be more Trumpian than the lawless president attacking a witness on Twitter as she testified before Congress about how she felt threatened by earlier comments of the president’s? That’s what happened Friday morning during Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch’s long-awaited appearance at the House Intelligence Committee’s second public impeachment hearing.
A three-time ambassador and public servant for 33 years, Yovanovitch testified Friday morning about facing a smear campaign orchestrated by Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, because she wouldn’t go along with Giuliani and President Trump’s scheme to pressure the new Ukrainian president into investigating the Bidens and the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Yovanovitch described how she was asked by the State Department to extend her term in Ukraine for another year, to July 2020, only to be told a month and a half later the president had “lost confidence” in her and recalled her from post. She said she was given “no real reason was offered why I had to leave and why it was being done in such a matter.” She was, however, told by a senior State Department official there were “concerns about her security” and she needed to get on the first plane out of Kyiv, which she did.
But the most striking part of the first two hours of Yovanovitch’s testimony came when she recalled reading the transcript of the now-infamous July 25th call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. On that call, Trump referred to Yovanovitch as “bad news” and said she was “going to go through some things.” (Zelensky, for his part, echoed Trump’s sentiment by saying she was a “bad ambassador” who supported the previous president, even though Zelensky’s campaign pledge to root out corruption aligned with Yovanovitch’s mission to do the same.)
Reading those words, Yovanovitch said she felt “shocked, appalled, devastated…that the president would talk about any ambassador that way to a foreign head of state — and it was me.”
She added, “It sounded like a threat.”
The proceedings took a surreal twist when Yovanovitch asked, in real time, to respond to a tweet Trump had just tweeted about her. Trump attacked Yovanovitch’s career, as a diplomat, claiming that “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.”
Yovanovitch rejected the president’s smear about her career and said the countries she served in showed improvement during her time there. She was asked how she felt the president’s real-time attack would affect other potential witnesses in the impeachment inquiry.
“It’s very intimidating,” she replied.
Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) told her, “Some of us here take witness intimidation very, very seriously.”
Here’s the video of that exchange:
"It's very intimidating."
— Pod Save America (@PodSaveAmerica) November 15, 2019