As J.E. Dyer notes in a post filed earlier, the one new piece of “evidence” in Adam Schiff’s Trump-Ukraine Impeachment Inquiry Report is the revelation (admission?) that the phone records of ranking Intel Committee member Devin Nunes and the president’s personal attorneys were subpoenaed, along with all that portends from a legal standpoint. Apart from that “bombshell,” the 300-page document, which is to serve as the evidentiary blueprint from which the House Judiciary Committee culls its articles of impeachment, reads like so much weak tea.
Perhaps the most ludicrous of the charges leveled in the report is the president’s alleged intimidation of witnesses. The report provides four “examples” of witnesses the president supposedly intimated. These include former Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, current Ambassador Bill Taylor, Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, who listened in on the July 25 phone call between the president and his Ukrainian counterpart, and Jennifer Williams, Vice President Mike Pence’s top advisor on Europe and Russia.
Of these four individuals, the report claims:
The President engaged in this effort to intimidate these public servants to prevent them from cooperating with Congress’ impeachment inquiry. He issued threats, openly discussed possible retaliation, made insinuations about their character and patriotism, and subjected them to mockery and derision — when they deserved the opposite. The President’s attacks were broadcast to millions of Americans — including witnesses’ families, friends, and coworkers.
Of the four names, the most salient is that of Marie Yovanovitch since it was during her testimony that the charge of witness intimidation was first mentioned. Here, presented in two video clips, is the moment in the hearings when Chairman Adam Schiff brought up the potential charge against the president:
Schiff asks Yovanovitch to respond to Trump's tweet, posted during her hearing, claiming that everywhere she worked "turned bad"
— CBS News (@CBSNews) November 15, 2019
"It's very intimidating." pic.twitter.com/YCPwO21dtS
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) November 15, 2019
Adam Schiff attended Harvard Law School. Presumably he is aware that in a courtroom trial, which is how the Intel Committee’s hearings were conducted, his question in the second video — “What effect do you think that [the president’s intimidating tactics] has on other witnesses’ willingness to come forward and expose wrongdoing?” — is both leading and inviting speculation on the part of a non-expert witness. The fact that Yovanovitch plays along and answers “It’s very intimidating” is quite beside the point.
It has been observed that even if Donald Trump’s comment had been posted before Yovanovitch’s testimony and she had seen it, neither of which was the case, he would have been within his rights under the First Amendment to make it.
If this allegation represents the strength of the Democrats’ case against Trump, they should probably quit while they are only slightly behind.