On Friday the Congressional hearing on Donald Trump’s impeachment continued with the testimony of Marie Yovanovitch, the former Ambassador of the United States to Ukraine. Most observers have noted that Yovanovitch is a respected diplomat whose decades of service to the country reflect her honor and honesty. That opinion, however, is not shared by the President, whose nasty animosity is starkly contrary to the consensus of those who know her and her work.
While the hearing was in progress, Trump demonstrated his deep-seated fear of the consequences of Yovanovitch’s truthful and credible testimony. True to form, Trump grabbed his Twitter machine and lashed out savagely at her in a loathsome attempt to discredit an honorable public servant. Trump tweeted that…
….They call it “serving at the pleasure of the President.” The U.S. now has a very strong and powerful foreign policy, much different than proceeding administrations. It is called, quite simply, America First! With all of that, however, I have done FAR more for Ukraine than O.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 15, 2019
First of all, the fact that Yovanovitch voluntarily served in “hardship” posts (or what Trump might call “shithole countries“) is evidence of her patriotism and commitment to the advancement of our national interests. She was not responsible for the adversity in those countries. To the contrary, she could be credited with mitigating the chaos and suffering they endured over many years prior to her tenure.
Trump’s tweets can only be interpreted as intending to intimidate this witness and discourage other witnesses from coming forward. It is a corrupt and potentially illegal act that exposes his consciousness of guilt and further incriminates him. That view is surprisingly shared by the principle “news” anchors at Fox News. Bret Baier was asked for his assessment immediately following the first session on the hearing. He said that…
“This whole hearing turned on a dime when the President tweeted about her real time. And during the questioning Adam Schiff stopped the Democratic questioning to read the President’s tweet to her and get her response. That enabled Schiff to then characterize that tweet as intimidating the witness, or tampering with the witness, which is a crime. Adding, essentially, an article of impeachment real time as this hearing is going on.
We continue our coverage of these hearings and the tweet sent by President Trump during the hearing about former US Ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch – House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff called it "witness intimidation." #FoxNews pic.twitter.com/aq21TKmUZz
— Bret Baier (@BretBaier) November 15, 2019
Not only did Baier identify the potential criminality embedded in Trump’s disparaging and threatening tweet, but he recognized that having tweeted while the hearing was still in progress was an unusual interruption that had a profound and improper impact. And he wasn’t alone. Fox’s Chris Wallace also commented on Yovanovitch’s testimony saying that “if you are not moved… by the testimony of Marie Yovanovich, you don’t have a pulse.” He went on to deliver a brief history of her sterling career with the State Department. And then he added that…
“I agree with Bret here that the really dramatic moment is that this wasn’t just testimony about the past. This played out in real time with the president attacking her and saying that every place that she served went bad. And she was asked by Adam Schiff, ‘Do you see that as an effort to intimidate you and other witnesses?’ And she said that ‘I feel that is quite intimidating.’ And that does raise the possibility of witness intimidation and witness tampering as a new charge here.”
Chris Wallace: “I think that if you are not moved… by the testimony of Marie Yovanovich, you don’t have a pulse.” pic.twitter.com/xXby3JIV7r
— Jesse Lee (@JesseCharlesLee) November 15, 2019
It was not, however, all hearts and flowers at Fox News. Yovanovitch has been bitterly attacked by the usual suspects during Fox’s primetime (Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham) and their morning propaganda block (Fox and Friends, Outnumbered). Wallace alluded to this when he spoke of the “smear campaign that came from Rudy Giuliani and some of his cohorts and was repeated in some of the outlets in right-wing media.” What Wallace didn’t acknowledge is that Fox News is the most prominent of those right-wing media outlets that smeared her. And we can expect that to continue despite these rare and candid comments from Baier and Wallace.
How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.
UPDATE: As Fox took a break from the hearing, their senior Capitol Hill producer made the utterly irrelevant observation that “When we look at the U.S. Constitution and look at Article 2, Section 4, it doesn’t say anything about witness intimidation.” Of course it doesn’t. It also doesn’t say anything about murder, rape, bank fraud, perjury (see Bill Clinton), tax evasion, child pornography, cannibalism, etc. The Constitution never intended to itemize every possible illegal act that would warrant impeachment.