November 15, 2019 / 4:09 PM / 20 days ago

'Witness intimidation is a crime': reaction to Trump impeachment hearing

(Reuters) - The U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence Committee held its second public hearing on Friday in an impeachment inquiry examining President Donald Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, with Marie Yovanovitch, former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, testifying.

Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch is sworn in prior to providing testimony before the House Intelligence Committee hearing as part of the impeachment inquiry into U.S. President Donald Trump on Capitol Hill in Washington, Washington, U.S., November 15, 2019. Alex Wong/Pool via REUTERS

As Yovanovitch testified, Trump fired off criticism of her on Twitter, a move Democrats labeled “real-time” witness intimidation.

Below are reactions to Friday’s hearing from outside the room.

HOUSE SPEAKER NANCY PELOSI ON TRUMP TWEET, ACCORDING TO CNN:

Asked if the tweet was appropriate, “‘Appropriate’ and ‘president’ in the same sentence? Come on. Why would we start making that judgment now?”

“I just haven’t seen it, the tweet, but witness intimidation is a crime.”

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP ON TWITTER DURING THE HEARING:

“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.”

WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY STEPHANIE GRISHAM ON TRUMP’S YOVANOVITCH TWEET: 

“The tweet was not witness intimidation, 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. There is less due process in this hearing than any such event in the history of our country. It’s a true disgrace.”

DOUG HEYE, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST WHO OFTEN CRITICIZES TRUMP, SPEAKING ABOUT TRUMP’S YOVANOVITCH TWEET:

“The battle lines have largely been drawn and people have made up their minds. The problem for Trump here is that, instead of being a counterpuncher he claims to be, he simply always takes the bait. ... We learned a long time ago that despite the wishes of even his own staff, Trump is never going to simply stop tweeting.”

REPUBLICAN REPRESENTATIVE JIM JORDAN ON TRUMP’S TWEETING DURING THE TESTIMONY:

“Look, the president has been frustrated with this relentless attack on him that started even before he was president. ... I think that’s what drives that.”

KEN STARR, SPECIAL PROSECUTOR IN INVESTIGATION THAT LED TO IMPEACHMENT CHARGES AGAINST DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON, ON FOX NEWS:

“I must say that the president was not advised by counsel in deciding to do this tweet. Extraordinarily poor judgment. The president frequently says ‘I follow my instincts.’ Sometimes we have to control our instincts, so obviously this was, I think, quite injurious. I don’t think it rises to the level of intimidation of a witness, but I think that’s the way it’s going to be characterized.”

FOX NEWS ANCHOR BRET BAIER ON YOVANOVITCH TESTIMONY, ON TWITTER:

“That was a turning point in this hearing so far. She was already a sympathetic witness & the President’s tweet ripping her allowed Schiff to point it out real time characterizing it as witness tampering or intimidation -adding an article of impeachment real-time.”

DEMOCRATIC REPRESENTATIVE DAVID CICILLINE ON TWITTER:

“Ambassador Yovanovitch is a patriot. What the President and his cronies did to her is despicable.”

ROBERT MENENDEZ, RANKING DEMOCRAT ON THE SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE ON U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE MIKE POMPEO AND THE STATE DEPARTMENT:

“Our State Department employees deserve commendation, not retaliation. They deserve our thanks, not our scorn. And above all else they deserve leaders who will defend them, not desert them when it matters most.”

Reporting by Chris Sanders; Editing by Rosalba O'Brien and Jonathan Oatis

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