In an interview broadcast on Friday, former acting administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration Chuck Rosenberg ripped into Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, reports Talking Points Memo.
Rosenberg, a veteran prosecutor who served under Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush, and in President Donald Trump‘s administration, said that Pompeo should have defended former United States Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch against the commander-in-chief’s attacks.
“His silence is deafening, it is an act of abject cowardice,” Rosenberg said of the secretary of state, questioning why someone with Pompeo’s credentials would not stand up for an American diplomat.
“I’m astonished that somebody who went to West Point and was an Army officer does not have the spine to stand up for the people in his organization who are being denigrated by this president.”
According to a transcript of Trump’s phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, the commander-in-chief told his Ukrainian counterpart that Yovanovitch is “going through some things,” attacking and criticizing her.
Yovanovitch drew public attention earlier this week during her testimony in the House Democrats’ impeachment investigation into Trump.
Testifying before the United States Congress, Yovanovitch said that she felt threatened by the president’s disparaging remarks revealed in the White House transcript.
As Talking Points Memo notes, according to multiple impeachment investigation witnesses, Pompeo was lobbied to issue a statement expressing support for Yovanovitch but refused to do so.
Rosenberg described Pompeo’s refusal to issue a statement and express support for the ambassador as “disgusting,” and a “complete failure of leadership.”
If Pompeo were watching the interview, Rosenberg said, “I would tell him he’s a coward.”
Trump’s attacks on Yovanovitch have only intensified. The president even attacked the ambassador as she was testifying before Congress, casting doubt on her career. As Yovanovitch was testifying, Trump took to Twitter to insult and belittle her, writing that everywhere she served “turned bad.”
Trump’s allies soon followed suit. Fox News host Sean Hannity, for instance, defended the president against criticism, ripping into Yovanovitch and calling her a “snowflake” for being intimidated.
According to Harvard Law School professor John Coates, the president committed an impeachable offense by attacking the diplomat, and his lashing out can be interpreted as witness intimidation.
Minutes after Trump lashed out at Yovanovitch, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff — one of the key figures in the impeachment probe — revealed to the ambassador that the commander-in-chief is attacking her as she testifies, asking her to say whether she feels intimidated.
The diplomat responded that she finds Trump’s attacks to be “very intimidating.”