As they present their findings to the public, House Democrats may find it easier to let President Donald Trump build the case for impeachment himself.
The testimony that Marie Yovanovitch, the former ambassador to Ukraine, delivered to Congress this morning was perhaps as politically damaging to Trump as anything presented during the first day of House impeachment hearings, on Wednesday. In a quiet but firm voice, she described how “a smear campaign” orchestrated by the president’s allies led to her abrupt dismissal as ambassador, and how “the color drained from my face” when she read a transcript of Trump bashing her in a phone call with Ukraine’s new president, Volodymyr Zelensky. “It sounded like a threat,” Yovanovitch said, referring to the president’s comment that she would “go through some things.”
But it was a presidential tweet in real time—not anything the veteran diplomat said—that could make it into an article Democrats draft to seek Trump’s removal from office.
“Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad,” the president tweeted at 10:01 a.m. eastern time, while Yovanovitch was answering questions from the Democratic-committee counsel, Daniel Goldman. Trump implied that Yovanovitch had contributed to the deterioration of countries where she was stationed on the president’s behalf, and he reiterated that he had the “absolute right to appoint ambassadors.” He falsely suggested that President Zelensky had asked for her removal as ambassador, even though the phone call in which both Trump and Zelensky criticized Yovanovitch occurred months after she was recalled to U.S. soil.