The House may want to consider President Donald Trump’s tweet attacking former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch during her public testimony before Congress as an article of impeachment, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said Sunday.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee member, during an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” tore into Trump for his tweet Friday that some Democrats have described as witness intimidation.
Asked whether the tweet should be an article of impeachment should the House decide to move forward in the process, Murphy said it was “an interesting question.”
“Maybe the House should consider it,” Murphy told host Chuck Todd.
The Democratic senator pointed out that though Trump unceremoniously recalled Yovanovitch from her position as ambassador, she continues to work in the State Department.
“So the president is basically telling her during her testimony is that there may be consequences to you and your family and your paycheck if you don’t shut up,” Murphy said. “And the message that’s being sent to everybody else who’s thinking about testifying is chilling as well.”
“I thought from the beginning that the impeachment inquiry should be narrow so that we can get it to the Senate as quickly as possible but this is really serious,” he added.
Trump’s tweet, which claimed “everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad,” drew backlash from both Democrats and some Republicans.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) read the tweet during the hearing Friday ― minutes after Trump sent it ― and asked Yovanovitch for her reaction.
“It’s very intimidating,” she told Schiff, who later told reporters that Trump’s tweet was “witness intimidation in real time.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) hasn’t said whether she believes the tweet constitutes witness intimidation, but told CBS’s “Face the Nation” in an interview that aired Sunday that Trump’s comments reflect “his own insecurity as an impostor.”
“I haven’t had a lot of time to pay attention to the president’s tweets and the legal implications of them,” she said. “I just think that was totally wrong and inappropriate and typical of the president.”
The second week of public hearings in the impeachment inquiry is set to begin Tuesday with Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the top Ukraine expert for the National Security Council, and Jennifer Williams, an aide to Vice President Mike Pence. U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland is scheduled to publicly testify on Wednesday.
Sondland initially testified behind closed doors that he wasn’t aware of Trump’s pressure campaign to get Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, a front-runner in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary. He later amended his testimony to say that he knew about it.
“I think [Sondland has] got to decide this weekend if he’s an American first or a Trump loyalist,” Murphy said Sunday.