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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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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