The anchor’s remarks came as Yovanovitch, the latest witness in the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump, appeared before the House Intelligence Committee to detail her May ouster from her envoy post.
Yovanovitch testified that Trump allies led by one of the president’s personal lawyers, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani waged a “smear campaign” against her, feeding unsubstantiated allegations to right-wing media to malign her.
Wallace ― whose own network took part in amplifying attacks on Yovanovitch ― called attention to her more than three decades of diplomatic service, including posts in Somalia and Uzbekistan and her “story of being a leading fighter against corruption in Ukraine.”
Giuliani has accused Yovanovitch of handing Ukrainian officials a “do not prosecute” list to protect Americans, though she has denied the unproven allegation. In her testimony, she said that her efforts to root out corruption had intimidated Ukrainians, and for that reason they wanted her dismissed.
Wallace’s emphasis on Yovanovitch’s career is a significant break from the overall Fox News focus on the efforts by Republican lawmakers to downplay and discount the seemingly damning revelations about Trump’s conduct provided by witnesses in the impeachment inquiry.
Yovanovitch was fired shortly before Trump’s July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during which Trump requested Zelensky’s government conduct a corruption probe of former Vice President Joe Biden ―the potential 2020 Democratic presidential nominee ― and Biden’s son based on unfounded allegations about their overseas business dealings. Trump’s push for such an investigation is the focus of the impeachment inquiry, examining whether he improperly attempted to solicit foreign interference in the 2020 election and used the threat of withholding U.S. financial aid to prod Ukraine to target a political rival.
A rough transcript of the July call shows that Trump sympathized with Zelensky’s dislike of Yovanovitch, calling her “bad news.”
During Yovanovitch’s Friday testimony, Trump berated her on Twitter, claiming that “everywhere” she went as a diplomat “turned bad.” He also noted that as president, he is entitled to select ambassadors as he sees fit.
Responding to the tweets as she testified, Yovanovitch told lawmakers, “I can’t speak to what the president is trying to do, but I think the effect is to be intimidating.”
Brett Baier, another Fox News anchor, said on Twitter that Trump’s comment “ripping” Yovanovitch gave Intelligence Committee chair Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) the chance to point it out, “characterizing it as witness tampering or intimidation ― adding an article of impeachment real-time.”
Defending his remarks, Trump asserted at a brief afternoon press conference that impeachment is “a political process, it’s not a legal process,” and, “I’m allowed to speak up.”
This story has been updated with Baier’s remarks and Trump’s press conference statement.