Washington (AP) - Democrats blame US President Donald Trump for his Twitter attack on a witness in the impeachment investigation.
"This is part of a model to intimidate witnesses," said US House of Representatives Intelligence Committee Chairman Democracy Adam Schiff after hearing the ex-US Ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch. Trump had attacked them during their questioning in Congress via Tweet. Schiff accused Trump of having tried in the past to obstruct investigations in this way. Trump rejected that and insisted on his freedom of speech. Republican MPs struggled to defend their party colleague Trump.
Yovanovitch said Friday in public session before the committee on the Ukraine affair. During their hearing, the US President interjected and wrote in a tweet that wherever Yovanovitch went, the situation had deteriorated.
Yovanovitch was referred to the tweet during her survey. She called this "intimidating". Schiff talked about "real-time intimidation of witnesses" and said it was "terrible" that Yovanovitch had to endure another attack by the president at the hearing. She had previously stated that she had felt threatened by Trump's previous statements.
Several Republicans struggled to downplay the ex-ambassador's hearing after hearing the Trump Tweet. You can find the Twitter statement right or wrong, said Republican Deputy Elise Stefanik. She herself does not agree with the tweet. "But this is not about tweets." Another Republican said he was not sure if it was an attack on a witness. It was more a statement "to her CV" acted. Other party colleagues argued that Trump only defended himself in the face of the unfair prosecutor in the impeachment investigation.
Trump himself denied the accusation that he was trying to intimidate witnesses and stated that he had a right to freedom of expression, "just like other people." What happens in the impeachment investigation is a shame. The Republicans would be denied important procedural rights.
Democrats in the US House of Representatives are pushing ahead with investigations into potential impeachment of Trump. They accuse the Republican president of abusing his power in order to convince the Ukrainian government to meddle in his favor in the US election campaign. It is suspected that Trump used military aid to the country in the amount of about 400 million US dollars as leverage. From the point of view of the Democrats, Trump wanted to persuade Ukraine to investigate that could have damaged his democratic rival Joe Biden. Trump calls the investigations a "witch hunt".
Joe Biden has a good chance at the presidential candidacy of the Democrats in the 2020 election, in which Trump wants to compete for the Republicans. Trump accuses Biden of attempting to protect his son from the Ukrainian judiciary in his former role as US Vice President. Hunter Biden was employed by a gas company in Ukraine. Trump wanted to investigate in Ukraine.
In recent weeks, several witnesses in Congress had already testified behind closed doors to the Ukraine affair. On Wednesday witnesses were first publicly questioned. Yovanovitch's statement was the third public hearing of its kind.
The US government prematurely recalled Yovanovitch from her post in Kiev in May. She complains that she has been withdrawn for "unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives." Also at the hearing on Friday, she was a victim of a "smear campaign" because of their commitment to corruption in Ukraine. She was blamed for corrupt Ukrainian officials - and Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.
The ex-ambassador was also referred to the minutes of the conversation between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Selenskyj in late July, which is at the center of the Ukraine affair. Trump encouraged Selenskyj to investigate Hunter Biden. About Yovanovitch, Trump said in the phone call, "She's going through a few things." The recalled ambassador said it sounded "like a threat".
Tweet from ship
Resolution of the US House of Representatives on the impeachment investigation against Donald Trump
Information from the US Senate on the impeachment procedure
General Information about the Impeachment Procedure in the US House of Representatives
Statement by the Executive US Ambassador in Kiev, William Taylor (excerpts)
Statement by former US Ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch (excerpts)
Statement by the US Ambassador to the EU, Gordon Sondland (excerpts)
Statement by the former Special Representative for Ukraine, Kurt Volker (excerpts)
"New York Times" on the impeachment process - with graphics on the procedure
Interview on the telephone conversation between Trump and Selenskyj on July 25 (published by the White House)
Written complaint of the whistleblower in the Ukraine affair