Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) hammered President Trump in an interview on Friday over his attack on former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch while she testified in front of Congress, saying the smear reflects his “insecurity” over being an “imposter” in the Oval Office.
“The president and perhaps some at the White House have to know that the words of the president weigh a ton. They are very significant. And he should not frivolously throw out insults, but that’s what he does,” Pelosi said in an interview for CBS’s “Face the Nation” that is set to air in its entirety on Sunday.
“I think part of it is his own insecurity as an imposter. I think he knows full well that he’s in that office way over his head. And so he has to diminish everyone else.”
“He made a mistake,” @SpeakerPelosi says on Trump’s tweet about Yovanovitch during her testimony. “I think part of it is his own insecurity as an impostor…he knows full well he’s in that office way over his head. And so he has to diminish everyone else.” https://t.co/F2Q7vnseuu pic.twitter.com/0FjTmQhz5P
— Face The Nation (@FaceTheNation) November 15, 2019
Trump raised eyebrows Friday morning when he attacked Yovanovitch just as she was testifying publicly in front of the House Intelligence Committee about the unusual circumstances surrounding her dismissal from her post earlier this year.
“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,” Trump tweeted. “It is a U.S. President’s absolute right to appoint ambassadors.”
“It’s very intimidating,” Yovanovitch responded during the impeachment inquiry hearing when asked about the tweet. “I can’t speak to what the president is trying to do, but I think the effect is to be intimidating.”
“I actually think that where I have served over the years, I and others have demonstrably made things better, for the U.S. as well as for the countries that I’ve served in.”
Democrats seized on Trump’s broadside, suggesting the comment amounted to witness intimidation and could be considered a new article of impeachment as the House’s investigation unfolds.
“I think it speaks for itself,” said Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.), a member of the Intelligence panel. “Everything the president does, from obstruction to intimidation, becomes part of the record. And we’ll decide later — or not — whether it’s part of the articles.”
“Innocent people don’t intimidate witnesses. Guilty people do,” agreed Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), another Intelligence Committee member. “It should be considered for obstruction. It’s evidence of more obstruction, intimidating the witness, tampering with the witness’s testimony.”
Yovanovitch was on Capitol Hill to testify about the circumstances regarding her abrupt dismissal from her ambassadorship by Trump in the spring after the president’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and his allies engaged in a smear campaign to oust her, according to testimony in connection with the impeachment inquiry.
“I have freedom of speech just like other people do,” Trump later said in defense of his comments, adding he doesn’t “at all” think the comments amount to intimidation.
Pelosi said Trump “made a mistake and he knows [Yovanovitch’s] strength. And he was trying to undermine it.”
“Of course, presidents appoint ambassadors, but people don’t insult people, especially when they’re giving testimony before the Congress of the United States. I think even his most ardent supporters have to honestly admit this is the wrong thing for the president to do,” she added.