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Trump’s messy Friday: 'Witness intimidation' accusations and confidant Roger Stone convicted

Former US ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch tells hearing she was a victim of a 'campaign of disinformation'

Former US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, right, testifies before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington. AP Photo/Susan Walsh
Former US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, right, testifies before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington. AP Photo/Susan Walsh

US President Donald Trump suffered a double blow on Friday.

It started with the conviction of his aide Roger Stone for lying and went further downhill as former US ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch gave evidence at the impeachment inquiry.

Mr Trump had been getting high marks earlier in the week for not interfering in or disparaging the public impeachment inquiry hearings happening on the Hill.

But that all dissipated on Friday, as the American President took to twitter to lash out against one of the witnesses.

As Ms Yovanovitch appeared before the House telling politicians that she was a victim of a “campaign of disinformation” involving Mr Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani, the US President launched a personal attack against her on twitter.

“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. It is a U.S. President’s absolute right to appoint ambassadors,” Mr Trump tweeted.

The tweet was read to Ms Yovanovitch during her second hearing.

She told politicians she felt threatened by the way Mr Trump talked about her to the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on July 25. The impeachment inquiry focuses on that call to Mr Zelensky and urging him to launch a corruption investigation into his political opponent, former US vice president Joe Biden, who is seeking the Democratic nomination.

Democrats investigating Mr Trump in the House saw his attack as clear witness intimidation.

“What you saw today [is] witness intimidation in real-time by the president of the United States,” Adam Schiff House Intelligence Committee Chairman said.

“There is no camouflaging of that corrupt intent,” Mr Schiff said to applause as the hearing adjourned.

The White House released on Friday the transcript of another call between Mr Trump and Mr Zelensky, from April 21, hoping to show a normal conversation.

In the call Mr Trump complimented the Ukrainian leader on his win, calling it “an incredible election.”

"I think you will do a great job. I have many friends in Ukraine who know you and like you.

“We'll have a lot of things to talk about, but we're with you all the way,” Mr Trump said.

But the transcript contradicted a readout by the White House of the call in April that said that Mr Trump “underscored the unwavering support of the United States for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity—within its internationally recognized borders—and expressed his commitment to work together with President-elect Zelensky and the Ukrainian people to implement reforms that strengthen democracy, increase prosperity, and root out corruption.”

There was no mention of corruption or Ukraine’s sovereignty by Mr Trump on the call according to the transcript.

Earlier in the day, Mr Trump’s friend, former aide and confidant Roger Stone was found guilty by a US court on seven counts that include lying to Congress, and obstructing an investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 election.

Mr Trump did not take that news well either. He attacked the judicial process and described a “double standard” that spares his opponents. “So they now convict Roger Stone of lying and want to jail him for many years to come. Well, what about Crooked Hillary, Comey, Strzok, Page, McCabe, Brennan, Clapper, Shifty Schiff, Ohr & Nellie, Steele & all of the others, including even Mueller himself? Didn’t they lie?….”

Mr Trump’s approval rating has dipped to 40 per cent in the latest Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Thursday.

The US President also trails major Democratic frontrunner nominees in national polls conducted by Quinnipac this week, one year before the vote next November.

Updated: November 16, 2019 03:12 AM

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