President Donald Trump received a verbal rap across the knuckles Friday for tweeting about former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch during her appearance before the House Intelligence Committee.
Yovanovitch was summoned as part of the House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry to give her perspective on the relationship between Ukraine and the Trump administration.
During comments she made about Trump loyalists trying to remove her from her post, the president himself tweeted about Yovanovitch, according to The Hill.
“Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad,” Trump tweeted.
Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went 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. It is a U.S. President’s absolute right to appoint ambassadors.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 15, 2019
“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.”
Fox Business host Lisa Kennedy Montgomery claimed the tweet crossed a line.
“Should the president be tweeting at her mid-hearing? No, it makes him look like a big, dumb baby,” Kennedy said on the Fox News show “The Five.”
“And he makes her look like a victim, and if he’d just let it go, the last two days of hearings and testimony would’ve been a snoozefest.”
Trump’s comment became part of the hearing when House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff read the tweet to Yovanovitch, who said it could have an intimidating effect on witnesses, The Hill reported.
During a White House event later, Trump was asked about accusations from Democrats that his tweet was a form of witness tampering, according to a White House media pool report.
“I’ll tell you about what tampering is. Tampering is when a guy like Shifty Shift doesn’t let us have lawyers,” Trump said. “Tampering is when Schiff doesn’t let us have witnesses, doesn’t let us speak.”
“I’ve been watching today. For the first time, I started watching and it’s really sad when you see people not allowed to ask questions. It’s totally — nobody has ever had such horrible due process. There was no due process.”
Trump said the hearings are “considered a joke all over Washington and all over the world.”
“It’s a disgrace what’s happening,” he said. “But you know what? The American public understands it. And that’s why the poll numbers are so good. And that’s why other things are so good. What they’re doing in Washington with that hearing — and, by the way, it’s a political process. It’s not a legal process.”
Trump then defended his right to comment as he wished.
“In the history of our country there has never been a disgrace like what’s going on right now. So, you know what? I — I have the right to speak. I have freedom of speech, just as other people do,” he said.
Trump was later asked if he considered his comments and tweets to be intimidating.
“I don’t think so at all,” Trump said.