House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff accused President Trump of witness intimidation as Mr. Trump tweeted criticisms of former Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch as she testified in the impeachment hearing on Friday.
As the former diplomat described her abrupt departure from Ukraine, Mr. Trump targeted her foreign service record, saying everywhere she went, things “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,” the president tweeted. “It is a U.S. President’s absolute right to appoint ambassadors.”
Mr. Schiff interrupted a line of questioning from his counsel to bring up the tweets and ask the former ambassador to respond.
Ms. Yovanovitch countered the president’s assessment, standing by her work as a diplomat.
“I don’t think I have such powers,” she said. “I actually think where I served … I and others have made things better.”
Mr. Schiff asked Ms. Yovanovitch if the president was trying to discourage other witnesses through his tweets about her.
“I can’t speak to what the president is trying to do, but the effect is very intimidating,” she said.
“Some of us here take witness intimidation very seriously,” Mr. Schiff said.
Ms. Yovanovitch testified earlier in the morning that Mr. Trump was convinced by non-trustworthy sources to remove her, which effectively undermined U.S. foreign policy.
“I still find it difficult to comprehend that foreign and private interests were able to undermine U.S. interest in this way,” she says.
Ms. Yovanovitch also said she felt threatened by some of the president’s remarks in his July 25th phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
A foreign career official for 33 years, Ms. Yovanovitch was appointed by President Barack Obama and kept on by President Trump until her recall earlier this year.
Rep. Lee Zeldin blamed Democrats for only reading part of the president’s tweet, saying they left out a key part about Mr. Zelensky’s concerns about Ms. Yovanovitch.
“The president is going to defend himself,” the New York Republican said.
In contrast to the president’s criticism, both New York Rep. Elise Stefanik and Republican counsel Stephen R. Castor both acknowledged and thanked the former ambassador for her decades of service.