Schiff's Shift: House Democrat Previews Witness Tampering Accusation

U.S. Representative Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, and ranking Republican Devin Nenes (R-CA) conduct a House Intelligence Committee hearing as part of the impeachment inquiry into U.S. President Donald Trump on Capitol Hill
November 15, 2019 Topic: Politics Region: Americas Blog Brand: The Buzz Tags: ImpeachmentUkraineDonald TrumpMaria YovanovitchAdam Schiff

Schiff's Shift: House Democrat Previews Witness Tampering Accusation

'As we sit here testifying the president is attacking you on Twitter,' Schiff said to Yovanovitch.

Democratic California Rep. Adam Schiff accused President Donald Trump of witness intimidation over a tweet he published during the testimony of former Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch during her congressional testimony Friday, signaling that Democrats could use the charge in their push to impeach the president.

In a dramatic moment during Yovanovitch’s testimony, Schiff read aloud a tweet that Trump published while the career diplomat was testifying.

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.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 15, 2019

Schiff said the tweet rose to the level of possible witness intimidation, even though Yovanovitch was not aware of the remarks until notified by Schiff.

“As we sit here testifying the president is attacking you on Twitter,” Schiff said.

“It’s designed to intimidate, is it not?” he asked after reading the tweet.

Schiff then previewed one direction he might take in the impeachment proceedings against Trump.

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

Democrats have suggested so far during the impeachment inquiry that Trump abused his office in his dealings toward Ukraine. The investigation centers on whether Trump pressured the Ukrainian government to open investigations into a company linked to Hunter Biden, as well as into whether Ukrainians meddled in the 2016 presidential election to help Hillary Clinton.

Democrats have not said exactly what high crimes and misdemeanors they believe Trump committed, though some have hinted at the crimes of bribery or extortion.

Schiff reiterated the witness intimidation allegation during an intermission in Yovanovitch’s testimony.

“We saw today witness intimidation in real-time by the president of the United States, once again going after this dedicated, respected, career public servant in an effort not only to chill her, but to chill others who might come forward,” he told CNN’s Manu Raju.

“We take this kind of witness intimidation … very seriously.”

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Image: Reuters.