By trying to intimidate former Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch on Twitter while she was testifying before the House Intelligence Committee, President Donald Trump “made Democrats’ job a lot easier,” wrote former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti for Politico.
“Trump often blasts his perceived enemies on Twitter, and the result is usually little more than handwringing on cable news. Thursday’s blast was altogether different and may end up changing the actual charges the House ultimately files against Trump,” wrote Mariotti. “The timing could not have been more dramatic, coming about an hour into the hearing and only moments after Yovanovitch testified about how mortified she felt reading what Trump had said about her to the Ukrainian president in July. And then he did it again: ‘Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad,’ he wrote. Chairman Adam Schiff deftly turned the disparaging tweet against Trump by reading it to a stunned Yovanovitch.”
“Her response to the tweet — ‘It’s very intimidating’ — spoke volumes and drowned out any other narrative that could have come out of her testimony,” continued Mariotti.
This one tweet from Trump, wrote Mariotti, could have huge consequences.
“It doesn’t matter that Yovanovitch would not be intimidated by a mere tweet, given how formidable she appeared during her testimony,” wrote Mariotti. “As Schiff pointed out, the fear of a Trump tweet could influence other witnesses, such as Ambassador Gordon Sondland, who is scheduled to appear next week. Indeed, the picture painted by testimony during the inquiry thus far is of Trump officials working under the specter that a Trump tweet could turn their world upside down.”
“That doesn’t mean a federal prosecutor would actually charge Trump with witness tampering if he was not in office,” added Mariotti. “It would be hard to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Trump intended to intimidate witnesses … But it really doesn’t matter. Impeachment is a political process, and you can expect House Democrats to add another article of impeachment charging Trump with witness tampering, which was also part of the articles of impeachment against former president Richard Nixon.”
“Trump may very well escape removal from office, given that the Senate Republicans appear to be all but impervious to any evidence that might emerge from the hearings,” concluded Mariotti. “But he is his own worst enemy. His ham-handed mistreatment of Yovanovitch and impulsive desire to belittle her during her testimony made it even more difficult for House Republicans to distract viewers from his indefensible conduct. If he keeps this up, he might well be the author of his own political end.”