Did he really think that was going to work in his favor, or did he simply snap? That’s a question we may be asking about Donald Trump’s behavior today for quite some time to come. Today was always going to go poorly for Trump. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch was going to come off as a credible witness, and she was going to expose Trump’s criminal antics for all to see. But this was one of those days where Trump was simply going to have to take his lumps and hope hee survived it.
Instead, Donald Trump decided to hop on Twitter and viciously attack Marie Yovanovitch while she was testifying against him. Most people know that doing this kind of thing is a crime. It’s what the mafia does to witnesses. If you’re going to try to intimidate a witness, you’d better make sure it works, because it makes you look incredibly guilty. It’s only worth taking the risk if you can actually motivate the witness not to testify against you.
That didn’t happen today. Yovanovitch didn’t start crying and hide under her desk when she learned that Trump was tweet-attacking her. She didn’t curtail her testimony for fear of what Trump might do to her. Instead she figuratively brushed the dust off her shoulder like Luke Skywalker in the latest Star Wars movie, and she continued methodically dismantling Trump with her testimony.
Not only did Donald Trump’s witness intimidation not work, the overreach appeared to leave his own side shaken. After Trump’s tweets were read aloud during the impeachment hearing, some House Republicans started pulling their punches. They suddenly seemed afraid of questioning Yovanovitch’s integrity on any level, for fear that doing so would only serve to exacerbate Trump’s mistake.
Donald Trump’s tweet helped convince the average viewer of today’s impeachment hearing that, whoever this woman who’s testifying might be, she must be telling the truth. Otherwise Trump wouldn’t have tried to shut her up in such maniacal fashion. Trump made himself look guilty today. He did arguably even more damage to himself, with one tweet, than Marie Yovanovitch did with all the hours of highly credible testimony.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report