As Former Ambassador Testifies to Feeling Threatened by Trump, He Smears Her in Real Time

The attack was quickly raised in the impeachment hearing, where the committee chair suggested it was witness intimidation.

Alex Brandon/AP

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Marie Yovanovitch, the former US ambassador to Ukraine, testified on Friday to feeling threatened after learning that President Donald Trump had told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that she would be “going through some things” during a July 25 phone call. But as she detailed her trauma to lawmakers, Trump was on Twitter smearing her again, in a move that both Yovanovitch and House Intelligence Committee chair Adam Schiff slammed as a form of intimidation.

Yovanovitch, testifying in the second day of impeachment hearings this week, said she was “devastated” after reading that Trump had described her as “bad news” on his call with Zelensky. “The color drained from my face,” she said. “I think I even had a physical reaction.”

Yovanovitch’s moving testimony laid bare the emotional and personal consequences of Trump’s efforts to coerce a foreign government into interfering in the 2020 election. But as Yovanovitch spoke, Trump took to Twitter to launch a stunning attack on the former diplomat:

Schiff, a Democrat from California, interrupted the proceedings to inform Yovanovitch that the president was attacking her in real time. “Would you like to respond to the president’s attack that everywhere you went turned bad?” Schiff asked after reading the tweet.

“I actually think that where I’ve served over the years, I, and others, have demonstrably made things better, for the US, as well as the countries that I’ve served in,” Yovanovitch said, describing the president’s new attack against her as “very intimidating.”

“Well, I want to let you know, ambassador, that some of us here take witness intimidation very, very seriously,” Schiff said.

The extraordinary moment was even recognized on Fox News, where Bret Baier suggested that it could add another article of impeachment to Democrats’ case against Trump. “This whole hearing turned on a dime when the president tweeted about her in real time,” he said.

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THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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