Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine who is testifying before the House Intelligence Committee, threw a wrench in Chairman Adam Schiff’s (D-CA) previous claims that President Trump engaged in “witness intimidation” after dismissing Minister Avakov’s attacks on then-candidate Trump by noting, “Sometimes that happens on social media.”
Republican counsel Steve Castor asked Yovanovitch if she was aware of Avakov’s attacks against then-candidate Trump. She suggested that she did not know of them during the relevant period of time and agreed with Castor describing Avakov as one of the more “influential officials” in Ukraine.
He asked, “Looking back on his comments in hindsight, do you see how that might create the perception that a highly influential Ukrainian was advocating against then-candidate Trump?”
“He was out to get him. He said some really nasty things,” he added.
At that point, Yovanovitch essentially downplayed critiques from officials on social media.
“Well, sometimes that happens on social media,” she said, prompting chuckles in the room. “And I— are you asking me whether it’s appropriate? Probably not”:
GOP counsel Castor: This Ukrainian guy said some very nasty things about Trump!
Marie Yovanovitch: Sometimes that happens on social media. pic.twitter.com/3VAlWyW73R
— Justin Baragona (@justinbaragona) November 15, 2019
“But I would say that Minister Avakov has been, as well as others … has been a good partner to the United States,” she said, calling him a “practical man” who is “looking for partners and getting the job done.”
“I’m shocked that social media would be the site of negative comments,” Castor said, using the point to demonstrate that the Ukrainian establishment was generally anti-Trump.
However, the former ambassador argued that it wasn’t a vast Ukrainian government plot, describing Castor’s examples as “isolated incidents.”
“I would just say that those elements that you’ve recited don’t seem to me to be Ukrainian, you know kind of a plan or plot of the Ukrainian government to work against President Trump or anyone else,” she said.
“I mean they’re insulated incidents,” she continued, once again pointing to the reality of public critiques.
“We all know, I’m coming to find out myself, that public life can be — you know people are critical,” she said. “And that does not mean that someone is or a government is undermining either a campaign or interfering in elections.”
Whether accidental or not, Yovanovitch’s argument, that critiques on social media are a reality of life and do not necessarily indicate a greater conspiracy, could throw a wrench in Schiff’s “witness intimidation” claims: