As former U.S. ambassador to the Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch testified before the House Intelligence Committee’s impeachment inquiry about her shock and embarrassment at President Trump describing her as “bad news” in a conversation with Ukrainian president Zelensky, Trump returned to the scene of the crime with a tweet attacking her again:
Interestingly enough, when House Intelligence Committee Republicans began their examination of Yovanovitch, they universally expressed appreciation for her service and respect for her talent and her patriotism. New York’s Elise Stefanik set the tone, as the Washington Post noted:
Rep. Elise Stefanik, the first GOP lawmaker to question Yovanovitch in five-minute rounds, thanked the ambassador for her service, just hours after Trump’s Twitter attack on the witness, setting a drastically different tone than the president.
Unlike Trump, the New York Republican did not call into question Yovanovitch’s effectiveness, even as she sought to get Yovanovitch to confirm statements helping the GOP defense of Trump.
Some House Republicans (beginning with ranking House Intelligence Committee member Nunes) questioned whether Yovanovitch was even germane to the impeachment inquiry, and others sought to get her to talk about the president’s vast appointment prerogatives or the Ukrainian corruption Trump, that paragon of purity, was allegedly trying to expose and stop. But so far there’s been not a hint of the president’s contempt for the diplomat he and his hireling Rudy Giuliani smeared.
Part of what may be going on is that House Republicans quickly realized how effective Yovanovitch was showing herself to be in her testimony. Bullying her, as the president characteristically chose to do, wasn’t a good look.
But it also reflects the “nothing to see here” approach in which Republicans don’t defend Trump’s misconduct but instead claim it had no real consequences. That’s the reason they kept gingerly asking her whether her current posting to a teaching gig at Georgetown is really all that bad. Just as Trump’s ham-handed efforts to get the Ukrainians couldn’t be impeachable because it didn’t produce the investigation of the Bidens that he wanted (National Review called this the “No Harm, No Foul” defense), his malice toward Yovanovich is no big deal because she did all right. So Republicans are perfectly justified, in their minds, to disregard her testimony and ignore Trump’s nasty treatment of her, the career foreign service officer everyone else respects.