The second day of impeachment hearings against President Donald Trump was thrown off stride on Friday by the President himself, as he went on Twitter and ridiculed the former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine as she testified before the House Intelligence Committee on Friday, prompting Democrats to accuse Mr. Trump of blatant witness intimidation.
"As we sit here testifying, the President is attacking you on Twitter," said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA).
"He is smearing you right now as you are testifying," said Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA).
"Expect witness tampering to be an article of impeachment," tweeted Rep. Justin Amash (I-MI), who left the Republican Party after endorsing an impeachment investigation against the President.
The President's tweets came as in the midst of questioning for Marie Yovanovitch, as Democrats swiftly moved to bring Mr. Trump's real time comments into the hearing.
.@RepAdamSchiff reads President Trump tweets about Marie Yovanovitch.— CSPAN (@cspan) November 15, 2019
Marie Yovanovitch: "It's very intimidating."
Schiff: "Some us here take witness intimidation very very seriously.
Watch LIVE here: https://t.co/hfUPMqA2R9 pic.twitter.com/oMq7uLGogQ
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
....They call it “serving at the pleasure of the President.” The U.S. now has a very strong and powerful foreign policy, much different than proceeding administrations. It is called, quite simply, America First! With all of that, however, I have done FAR more for Ukraine than O.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 15, 2019
"I mean, I can't speak to what the President is trying to do, but I think the effect is to be intimidating," Yovanovitch said in her impeachment appearance.
The President's tweets unexpectedly upended whatever GOP planning had been done for the hearing, forcing Republican lawmakers yet again to answer for the reactions of Mr. Trump, and leading to headlines which clearly took Republicans off script.
GOP lawmakers tried their best to steer around Yovanovitch, engaging in no line of questions which had any type of confrontational element during the hearing.
Instead, Republicans praised her diplomatic work, noting that she had landed a fellowship at Georgetown University, at the same rate of pay as her ambassadorial post.
Democrats mocked that talk.
"It's like a Hallmark movie, you ended up at Georgetown! It's all okay!" said Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL) in a sarcastic tone.
Yovanovitch ends her testimony to applause from the public pic.twitter.com/wBO1xF1Rx7— Miriam Elder (@MiriamElder) November 15, 2019
Democrats returned again and again to the President's tweets during the hearing, accusing him of trying to undermine the impeachment investigation.
"This is another step by the President to intimidate witnesses," said Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT).
"He didn't intimidate you," Welch told Yovanovitch.
Republicans again did their best to simply say the entire process was a sham.
"The American people know this is nonsense," said Rep. Chris Stewart.
At the end of the hearing, top Republican Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) called the second hearing an 'embarrassment.'
But a couple minutes later, members of the public were standing and cheering for Yovanovitch.