President Donald Trump made his presence felt during Friday’s impeachment inquiry hearing, tweeting about former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch while she was testifying before the House Intelligence Committee.
Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) took notice and accused the president of trying to intimidate a witness during the hearing. Fox News host Bret Baier said Trump might pay a price for his comments.
“That was a turning point in this hearing so far,” Baier wrote on Twitter. “She was already a sympathetic witness & the President’s tweet ripping her allowed Schiff to point it out real time characterizing it as witness tampering or intimidation — adding an article of impeachment real-time.”
Ill-advised as the tweets may have been in that moment, Baier’s take on their potential impact on the case against the president is more in line with Democrats than Republicans and conservatives in media, who believe President Trump had the right to criticize Yovanovitch.
“As for Trump’s tweet, to call it witness intimidation is laughable,” Ari Fleischer, former press secretary for George W. Bush, tweeted. “People can say whatever they want about Trump and he can’t say what he thinks? The witness has every right to speak her mind and he can speak his. If witnesses are so intimidated, why do they keep showing up?”
Trump attacked Yovanovitch’s record as a diplomat while she was testifying.
“Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad,” Trump wrote. “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.”
Friday’s hearing had little to do with alleged bribery by President Trump and more to do with whether or not his removal of Yovanovitch from her post was unfair or in service of corruption in Ukraine.
During a news conference Friday afternoon, Trump complained to the media that he was not being granted due process to defend himself, and that Republicans in the hearings were not being treated fairly in impeachment hearings. Both Democrats and Republicans were given equal time to question the witness.
(H/T: The Hill)