President Donald Trump targeted former U.S. Ambassador to the Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch during her testimony before the House Intelligence Committee on Friday as part of his impeachment inquiry.
“Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad. 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,” Trump tweeted.
“It is a U.S. President’s absolute right to appoint ambassadors,” he continued. “They call it ‘serving at the pleasure of the President.’ The U.S. now has a very strong and powerful foreign policy, much different than proceeding administrations. It is called, quite simply, America First!
“With all of that, however, I have done FAR more for Ukraine than O.”
….They call it “serving at the pleasure of the President.” The U.S. now has a very strong and powerful foreign policy, much different than proceeding administrations. It is called, quite simply, America First! With all of that, however, I have done FAR more for Ukraine than O.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 15, 2019
As Trump indicated, Yovanovitch, who was a holdover from the Obama administration, came up during the president’s July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, which is at the center of the Democrats’ impeachment push.
According to the transcript of the call released by the White House, Trump said, “The former ambassador from the United States, the woman, was bad news and the people she was dealing with in the Ukraine were bad news so I just want to let you know that.”
Zelensky agreed, saying, “It was great that you were the first one who told me that she was a bad ambassador because I agree with you 100 percent.”
He continued, “Her attitude towards me was far from the best as she admired the previous President [of Ukraine] and she was on his side. She would not accept me as a new President well enough.”
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff read Trump’s tweet to Yovanovitch during the hearing Friday and asked for her response to his comment that everywhere she went “turned bad.”
“I don’t think I have such powers,” she said. “Not in Mogadishu, Somalia, and not in other places. I actually think that where I have served over the years, I and others have demonstrably made things better for the U.S., as well as for the countries that I’ve served in.”
Schiff then asked what effect Trump’s conduct has on her and other witnesses willing to come forward.
“Well, it’s very intimidating,” Yovanovitch answered.
During a break in the hearing, Schiff told reporters, “What we saw today was witness intimidation in real time by the president of the United States.”
“It was an effort to not only chill her, but chill others who may come forward,” he added. “We take this kind of witness intimidation and obstruction of inquiry very seriously.”
Trump was asked about that claim Friday afternoon and said, “I have the right to speak. I have freedom of speech, just as other people do.”
Trump asked about witness intimidation charge:
“Tampering is when a guy like shifty Schiff doesn’t let us have lawyers, tampering is when Schiff doesn’t let us have witnesses, doesn’t let us speak. … I have the right to speak, I have freedom of speech, just as other people do.” pic.twitter.com/h2J3kKML6G
— JM Rieger (@RiegerReport) November 15, 2019
CNN host Jake Tapper tweeted that he saw what Trump posted as “a potential article of impeachment” in itself.
Democrat Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez described the president’s tweet as “personally authored witness intimidation” which “means [he] wants to sign up for another article on obstruction of justice, too.”
However, Fox News and radio talk show host Mark Levin dismissed the idea that Trump’s tweet was witness intimidation.
“I swear the media are not only vicious but they are nuts. But for the fact that Schiff read the presidents tweet to the witness during the course of the hearing, she would have not known about the tweet. How the hell is that witness tampering?” Levin, who served as chief of staff to Attorney General Edwin Meese during the Reagan administration, tweeted.
2. Furthermore, it clearly hasn’t changed the fact that the witness is testifying willingly and sticking to her script.
— Mark R. Levin (@marklevinshow) November 15, 2019
He added, “Furthermore, it clearly hasn’t changed the fact that the witness is testifying willingly and sticking to her script.”
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