November 18, 2019

‘Schiff Show’ Roundup: Yovanovitch, Intimidation, Guilty Until…

Disputes over the takeaway from the testimony of the former ambassador to Ukraine.

Before we kick things off today, a reminder: Upon taking office in 2009, Barack Obama fired all of George W. Bush’s politically appointed ambassadors. At the time, The Washington Post observed, “Political ambassadors sometimes are permitted to stay on briefly during a new administration, but the sweeping nature of the directive suggests that Obama has little interest in retaining any of Bush’s ambassadorial appointees.” Funny how times change.

On Friday, former Ukraine Ambassador Maria Yovanovitch testified before the House Intelligence Committee in the Democrats’ ongoing impeachment charade. She claimed that she was “kneecapped” by President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, leading to her being recalled from Ukraine. Democrats sought to paint Yovanovitch as a nonpartisan civil servant and a casualty of Trump’s alleged attempt to dig up dirt on Joe Biden, irrespective of the fact that she was removed from her posting months prior to Trump’s now-infamous phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Partisan witness: Yovanovitch insisted that she was nonpartisan following allegations of anti-Trump bias raised by Giuliani, but Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) poked holes in her claim, forcing her to admit that she took no action to prevent nor publicly objected to Kyiv siding with Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Unforced error:: During her testimony, Trump tweeted, “Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad. She started off in Somalia, how did that go?” This broadside gave Democrats more ammunition to attack Trump, as Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) took the opportunity to read the tweet to Yovanovitch and then absurdly assert that it was witness “intimidation.” She played right into his strategy, agreeing that Trump’s tweet was “very intimidating.” She added, “I can’t speak to what the president is trying to do, but I think the effect is to be intimidating.” Baloney. The only reason it was “intimidating” is that Schiff read it to her during her testimony. Trump made no threats; he just complained, as he usually does, via social media.

Still no crime: An exchange between Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT) and Yovanovitch was enlightening.

Stewart: “I would now feel compelled to ask you, Madam Ambassador, as you sit here before us, very simply and directly, do you have any information regarding the president of the United States accepting any bribes?”

Yovanovitch: “No.”

Stewart: “Do you have any information regarding any criminal activity that the president of the United States has been involved with at all?”

Yovanovitch: “No.”

Guilty until proven innocent: Speaking of intimidation, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) declared over the weekend, “If the president has information that demonstrates his innocence in all of this, which we haven’t seen… If [Trump] has information that is exculpatory … then we look forward to seeing it… [Trump] could come right before the committee and talk, speak all the truth that he wants if he wants.” On the contrary, the burden of proof is on the prosecuting Democrats, and they’re apparently not up to the task.

For whatever it’s worth, Trump responded that he’d “strongly consider” testifying.

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