On CNN Saturday, Politico's Melanie Zanona noted that President Donald Trump's decision to attack former Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch in a tweet while she was testifying to Congress not only risks another article of impeachment — it is also leaving his Republican allies unable to defend his behavior.
"Melanie, it's hard to know what all independent and undecided voters might be thinking, but I had a guest on earlier who made a powerful point, in that some voters might be looking at the pattern of how the president describes particularly powerful women, and he would call her bad news and she had such an esteemed reputation," said anchor Fredricka Wilson.
"Right, and this plays exactly into Democrats' hands. It makes her more of a martyr," said Zanona. "This is what Republicans did not want to happen. They had huddled in the basement. They weren't going to go after her and attack her credibility as a witness. They wanted to praise her and thank her for her service. So privately, Republicans were dumbfounded that he would tweet in the middle of this hearing. Some of the Republicans wouldn't even answer questions about it. I had one lawmaker on the committee, a Republican, John Ratcliffe, I tried asking him about it and he faked a phone call to avoid talking to me about this. It shows how difficult a spot Republicans are in."
"Melanie, you said you've reached out to Republicans defending the president's attacks on Yovanovitch, her claims of this smear campaign. In your view, does this show that some Republicans may be rethinking their defense of the president on this?"
"I think they're rethinking a lot of their defenses," said Zanona. "We've seen each one of their defenses has crumbled under the weight of this. They've tried to mention he was just trying to root out corruption in Ukraine. We have witness after witness saying he was focused on investigations. They've tried to say that most of these witnesses are secondhand accounts, they don't have firsthand knowledge. Now we have another potential witness who is saying he directly heard Trump's voice talking about these investigations ... They don't have a whole lot of good options here."