A number of criticisms against President Donald Trump began to materialize on Friday morning, following a critical tweet he directed toward former Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch while her testimony in front of impeachment investigators was going on.
Trump seemed to blame the former diplomat for bad outcomes in countries she worked within.
“Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad,” Trump wrote in his tweet. “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.”
According to reporting from Vox, Trump was the first to bring up Yovanovitch in their phone conversation, and tepidly agreed with the president’s ill remarks toward her.
Yovanovitch was later asked during her deposition what she thought of Trump’s tweets directed at her while she testified. When asked what her reaction was to them, Yovanovitch answered, I can’t speak to what the president is trying to do, but I think the effect is to be intimidating” to other witnesses that may speak or are considering coming forward to impeachment investigators.
"It's very intimidating." pic.twitter.com/YCPwO21dtS
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) November 15, 2019
Pundits across the political spectrum agreed, including correspondents from some of Trump’s favorite programs on cable news networks.
“Fox & Friends” co-host Brett Baier noted on the Fox News program that Trump’s words were not helpful to himself. “This whole hearing turned on a dime when the president tweeted about her [in] real time, and during the questioning, Adam Schiff stopped…to read the president’s tweet to her and get her response,” Baier said, per reporting from Vox.
“That enabled Schiff to then characterize that tweet as intimidating the witness or tampering the witness, which is a crime — adding essentially an article of impeachment in real time as this hearing is going on,” he added.
Ken Starr, the former independent counsel for the investigation of Bill Clinton, and who now appears on Fox News as an analyst, agreed that Trump’s tweet was injurious, showing “extraordinarily poor judgment” on his part. Fox News anchor Chris Wallace said, “If you are not moved by the testimony of Marie Yovanovitch today, you don’t have a pulse,” according to reporting from Axios.
Rep. Jim Jordan, a staunch defender of the president’s, later tried to defend Trump’s tweet directed toward Yovanovitch. Trump “has been frustrated with this relentless attack on him by the Democrats that started even before he was president,” Jordan said. “I think the American people can relate to the frustration.”