Donald Trump 'intimidated' ousted US Envoy with tweets during impeachment testimony
15 November 2019, 21:46
A former US envoy has said she found Donald Trump's twitter attack as she testified in the impeachment enquiry "very intimidating".
During the televised statement, Marie Yovanovitch said her abrupt removal as US Ambassador to Ukraine in May was in the interest of "shady interests the world over".
She also told the investigation that during a phone call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, President Trump said she was "going through some things" and that is "sounded like a threat".
However, during her evidence, Mr Trump took to Twitter to blast her, writing: "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."
During the hearing, the Democratic chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff asked Ms Yovanovitch what she thought of the tweet.
She replied that she found it "very intimidating".
"I can't speak to what the president is trying to do, but I think the effect is to be intimidating," she said.
Mr Schiff replied: "Well, I want to let you know, ambassador, that some of us here take witness intimidation very, very seriously."
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
....They call it “serving at the pleasure of the President.” The U.S. now has a very strong and powerful foreign policy, much different than proceeding administrations. It is called, quite simply, America First! With all of that, however, I have done FAR more for Ukraine than O.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 15, 2019
A White House spokesperson denied that Mr Trump's post amounted to witness intimidation, saying the tweet was "simply his opinion".
However, Republican Liz Cheney said Mr Trump's live tweeting was wrong.
She said: "I don't think the president should have done that."
During the hearing, Ms Yovanovitch described a "smear campaign" against her by Mr Trump's allies, including his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.
In her opening remarks, she said: "These events should concern everyone in this room.
"Shady interests the world over have learned how little it takes to remove an American ambassador who does not give them what they want."
Recalling how she felt when she read comments made by Mr Trump denouncing her in a phone call with Ukraine's president, Ms Yovanovitch said someone with her said "the colour drained from my face".
She added: "Even now words fail me."
The impeachment inquiry is focused on Mr Trump's actions toward Ukraine and accusations that the president withheld military aid to Ukraine while he pushed the country to investigate rival Democrats, including presidential hopeful Joe Biden.
But Mr Trump has continually branded the probe a hoax and argues he has done nothing wrong.