On Friday, while former ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch was busy explaining the downfall of her career for a bored impeachment audience, President Trump weighed in on the proceedings to take a few shots at the official he fired.
“Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad,” Trump tweeted. “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.”
This was your usual Trump, telling it like it is while denigrating someone who wants to come out and fire blanks at his presidency. There was nothing defamatory or outrageous in the tweet. You can argue whether or not it was politically advisable, we suppose, but…”witness intimidation”? Are you serious?
But Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), who is desperately looking for something – anything – to lend his impeachment inquiry a shred of legitimacy, called it just that when he displayed the tweet for Yovanovitch to read.
“It’s very intimidating,” Yovanovitch agreed, just as she knew Schiff was encouraging her to do. “I can’t speak to what the president is trying to do, but I think the effect is to be intimidating.”
How on earth were the president’s words intimidating? Did he threaten her in any way? Or did he simply express a well-founded opinion about her service, just as he has the right to do?
“The tweet was not witness intimidation,” said White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham. “It was simply the president’s opinion, which he is entitled to. This is not a trial, it is a partisan political process — or to put it more accurately, a totally illegitimate, charade stacked against the president.”
But, of course, Trump’s detractors couldn’t resist making a mountain out of a molehill.
“Witness intimidation is a crime, no matter who does it. Full stop,” tweeted Hillary Clinton.
The New York Times helpfully explained why:
The tactic functions not just as an attempt to discredit his critics, but as a warning to deter others from coming forward.
At a minimum, it can unleash a cascade of abuse online and harassing messages from Mr. Trump’s supporters, which can be especially unsettling for people who are not accustomed to being in the public eye.
But it can also raise fears that some unhinged person may go further: This year, a fervent Trump supporter, Cesar A. Sayoc Jr., was sentenced to 20 years in prison for mailing bombs to people and organizations that Mr. Trump had criticized, including prominent Democrats and journalists.
Oh good grief. Trump is uniquely unable to say anything about anyone because one fruitcake in Florida sent some fake pipe bombs to a bunch of Democrats? That makes a lot of sense.
Well, Schiff, Clinton, and the Democrat-run media are throwing whatever they can against the wall, because they know they’ve got absolutely nothing. Take their desperation as a comforting sign.