There are unforced errors and then there are unforced errors. A little over an hour ago, during the testimony of former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, Donald Trump committed what may turn out to be the mother of all unforced errors. He tweeted:
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.
….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
In an unprecedented move, Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff interrupted the Democratic counsel, who was in the middle of interrogating Yovanovitch, to read the president’s tweet. Schiff then asked Yovanovitch if she felt intimidated by the president’s tweet, and she answered affirmatively.
The committee is currently on break, and minutes ago Adam Schiff told reporters that Trump’s tweet is being viewed as an example of witness intimidation and that a new article of impeachment will be brought.
Whether Republicans on the committee are able to defuse this situation, it is beyond argument that the tweet was ill-advised and that the president has given them a heavy lift. Much will of course ride on Republicans’ cross-examination of Yovanovitch and any evidence they may be in possession of that will exculpate the president.
As for Trump, maybe he should desist from tweeting during these live hearings.