Perhaps the needle moved at least a bit when President Donald Trump live-tweeted a direct insult against Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, while she was testifying. Jaws dropped in the room and the country. At first, the ridiculous assertion that Somalia failed at the hands of a junior foreign-service officer, but then, most importantly, at the entire idea of trashing a witness mid-testimony.
Republicans may be correct in scoffing that Yovanovitch is too tough to be deterred by a tweet; that’s probably true. But why should she be forced to endure the running strain of insults from the president at all?
This began with his reference to her in the infamous phone call with President Zelensky, in which he referred to her only as “the former ambassador, the woman, was bad news.” Trump surely knew Yovanovitch’s name after months of efforts by Rudy Giuliani and his Ukranian thugs to destroy her.
As my wife immediately pointed out, use of “the woman” rather than her name is demeaning to someone of Yovanovitch’s stature—and an insult to all women. If that was demeaning, the president’s later statement that she would “go through some things” was flat-out intimidation by any rational standard. And therein lies the heart of charges that Trump threatened and intimidated a witness. That is a federal crime.
If the needle moved, surely it would have been women watching yet another example of Trump trashing strong females, from his profane battering of journalist Megyan Kelly (“blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her, wherever”) to branding Hillary Clinton as “crooked” and “unable to satisfy her husband.” A host of other examples exist, as noted in a column for The Atlantic by journalist Molly Jong-Fast.
Add to that the clear intimidation and threats by Trump against Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, whom he basically charged with treason. Should any president now or in the future be allowed to get away with such behavior? It will take a seismic event of some force to breach the great red wall in the House Republican Caucus, but the ground moved just a bit Friday.
The needle may be moving. ABC/Ipsos conducted a weekend poll showing that 70 percent of respondents believed Trump did something wrong in Ukraine (25 percent did not agree). And 51 percent said he should be impeached and removed from office. I didn’t see a breakdown by gender. It might have been a factor in his “thinking about” testifyingy, perhaps in writing (ie by his lawyers), a ploy Congress is not likely to accept. Swear him and question him.