Trump draws backlash from GOP, Democrats over Yovanovitch tweet


Nicholas Wu and Christal Hayes


USA TODAY

Published 12: 43 PM EST Nov 15, 2019

WASHINGTON – Some of President Donald Trump’s allies denounced his tweets attacking former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, though others defended him, as she testified before the House Intelligence Committee on Friday.

“Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad,” the president tweeted at 10: 01 a.m. EST, roughly an hour into the hearing and while Yovanovitch spoke.

Yovanovitch called Trump’s comments “very intimidating” after House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., read them aloud during the hearing about 20 minutes later.

Speaking to reporters during a break in the hearing, Schiff strongly condemned the president’s tweets, which he called “witness intimidation in real time.” 

“Once again, going after this dedicated and respected career public servant in an effort to not only chill her but to chill others who may come forward,” Schiff said.

Former Independent Counsel Ken Starr, who is often supportive of the president, told Fox News: “I must say that the president was not advised by counsel in deciding to do this tweet. Extraordinarily poor judgment.”

Republican New York Rep. Elise Stefanik, a member of the Intelligence Committee, said she disagreed with Trump’s attack on Yovanovitch. 

“I disagree with the tweet,” Stefanik said to reporters. “I think Ambassador Yovanovitch is a public servant, like many of our public servants in the foreign service.”

Some Republicans leaving the hearing for a break defended Trump’s attacks of Yovanovitch, saying the president was not going to sit back without defending himself.

“The president’s going to defend himself,” said Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y. “There’s no way that if Democrats are going to insist on tearing our country in half with this impeachment charade, that the president’s just going to sit back and allow Adam Schiff to play this game.”

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Zeldin said Democrats spent the morning with Yovanovitch attempting to “recreate” an episode that happened during her closed-door deposition last month when she got upset and started crying.

“They wanted her to cry for the cameras,” he said. “It’s unfortunate.”

Rep. Mark Meadows, a North Carolina Republican who normally is a vocal defender of the president, wouldn’t defend Trump or Yovanovitch after the Twitter attacks, only saying that he didn’t believe it would affect how the American people view these hearings.

“To suggest that there’s a whole lot of relevant testimony, as it relates to the impeachable offenses that the Democrats have alleged, I don’t see it being relevant,” he said.

Democrats, on the other hand, have cast the president’s tweets as witness intimidation, something that should see consequences.

“Any judge will tell you that they take great sensitivity to any witness that has been alleged to have been intimidated,” said Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas. “Witness intimidation is a well-known doctrine that warrants drastic consequences.”

Contributing: David Jackson, Jeanine Santucci

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