Saturday November 16, 2019
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Saturday November 16, 2019
Trump impeachment: Stunning scenes as witness applauded after seeing off real-time ‘intimidation’ by president
Career diplomat Marie Yovanovitch received a rare, emotional standing ovation after she testified about Donald Trump’s threatening intimidation over Ukraine, and fended off in real time a stunning Twitter attack from the president.
As Ms Yovanovitch delivered her testimony on Capitol Hill, providing a damning portrait of a “smear campaign” against her led by Rudy Giuliani, Mr Trump’s personal lawyer, Democrats accused the president of seeking to intimidate witnesses, and said his words could be included in any articles of impeachment.
At the conclusion of Ms Yovanovitch’s evidence, congressman Adam Schiff, the Democratic chair of the House intelligence committee underscored the historic nature of the day. He said Mr Trump’s attack on the diplomat had been “just appalling”.
“But as we have observed so often, appalling in this administration is not the least bit surprising,” he added. “Nonetheless, she endured the attack and went on. We are grateful for that.”
Asked about suggestions from several members of his party that the president’s tweet could form part of an article of impeachment, he said they were “part of a pattern to intimidate witnesses. It’s also part of a pattern to obstruct the investigation”.
For her part, Ms Yovanovitch received loud applause from many of those watching, when she concluded almost five hours of testimony. In unusual scenes, spectators spontaneously started clapping when Mr Schiff gavelled the hearing closed, then stood and cheered for her as she left the room.
Ms Yovanovitch, 61, was not considered the Democrats’ star witness. As Republicans pointed out, the party first chose to call William Taylor and George Kent to deliver the opening public testimony on Wednesday.
The two men, like Ms Yovanovitch long-time career professionals who had served presidents of both parties, detailed how Mr Trump apparently placed his own political needs ahead of the security of Ukraine, by making military aid and a state visit to Washington dependent on Kiev announcing an investigation into Joe Biden and his son. Republicans have long accused the Democratic former vice president of improperly using his position to oust a prosecutor who threatened the business interests of his son, though there is no evidence to support the claims.
Ms Yovanovitch’s manner and demeanour were similar to those of her colleagues – methodical, logical and stressing service of country over partisan politics. She reminded her audience that diplomacy was not just about cocktail parties, and that US diplomats had died while working to represent the nation, most recently in the 2012 attack on a compound in the Libyan city of Benghazi.
Yet, the words of Ms Yovanovitch, who was recalled in May from her position as the US ambassador to Ukraine at the behest of Mr Trump and Mr Giuliani, carried more power for several reasons. Firstly, in her prepared remarks, she referred to discovering the president had been using been discussing her removal. (The Independent)