House Republicans brushed off President Trump’s online criticism of former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, focusing instead on the substance of the diplomat’s testimony Friday at an impeachment hearing.
“We’re not here to talk about tweets, we’re here to talk about impeachable offenses,” New York Rep. Elise Stefanik told reporters after the hearing. “You can disagree or dislike the tweet but we are here to talk about impeachment and nothing in that room today and nothing in that room earlier this week rises to the level of impeachable offenses.”
House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff accused the president of witness intimidation as he tweeted criticisms of Ms. Yovanovitch as she testified Friday.
As the former diplomat described her abrupt departure from Ukraine, Mr. Trump targeted her foreign service record, saying that things “turned bad” everywhere she went.
“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 asked Ms. Yovanovitch if the president was trying to discourage other witnesses through his tweets about her.
SEE ALSO: Donald Trump accused of witness intimidation after criticizing Marie Yovanovitch as she testified
“I can’t speak to what the president is trying to do, but the effect is very intimidating,” she replied.
After the hearing, Mr. Schiff said the president’s comments are nothing new.
“The president’s attack on a witness today is not something we view in isolation,” the California Democrat said. “This is part of a pattern to intimidate witnesses and its also part of a pattern to obstruct the investigation.”
Republicans rejected the accusation of witness intimidation, arguing that Ms. Yovanovitch was able to answer all the questions and Mr. Trump had a right to defend himself.
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.
“Why is President Trump putting out information and fighting back? It’s because Adam Schiff only wants the American public [to have] that 3% of the information,” said Mr. Zeldin, New York Republican. “But President Trump is right for wanting to defend himself and make sure that the other 97% of the story is out there.”
SEE ALSO: Marie Yovanovitch admits Obama officials leery of Hunter Biden’s big-money Ukraine job