Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch commented in real time to tweets from President Donald Trump attacking her as she testified in a House impeachment hearing, saying they were meant to intimidate her.
According to The Hill, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff offered Yovanovitch the chance to respond to Trump after he paused her dramatic testimony to read Trump’s tweet.
“It’s very intimidating,” Yovanovitch said. “I can’t speak to what the president is trying to do, but I think the effect is to be intimidating.”
In his tweet, Trump wrote that “everywhere” 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,” he wrote.
In her remarks, Yovanovitch, who spoke in a calm, measured tone throughout her testimony, said the President was prescribing powers to her that she did not realize she had.
“I don’t think I have such powers, not in Mogadishu, Somalia and not in other places,” Yovanovitch said. “I actually think that where I have served over the years, I and others have demonstrably made things better, for the U.S. as well as for the countries that I’ve served in.”
Yovanovitch added that Ukraine has made “a lot of progress since 2014, including in the years that I was there, and I think in part — the Ukranian people get the most credit for that — but a part of that credit goes to the work of the United States and to me as the ambassador in Ukraine.”
Trump’s decision to tweet about Yovanovitch during the hearing was not entirely surprising given his tendency to go after those criticizing him.
But the decision is likely to give discomfort to Republicans seeking to defend him given its timing. Democrats immediately accused Trump of seeking to intimidate a witness.
Yovanovitch was ousted as U.S. ambassador after she was told the President had lost confidence in her. She testified that she believed she was the victim of a shadow campaign to oust her that was orchestrated by Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani.