According to Schiff, Trump intimidated former United States Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch during her testimony before the United States Congress.
“We saw today witness intimidation in real-time by the president of the United States,” the top Democrat said in the aftermath of the testimony, characterizing Trump’s attack as “an effort to chill her and others that come forward.”
During the hearing, as Yovanovitch was detailing the Trump administration’s Ukraine policy, the president took to Twitter, mocking and belittling the diplomat.
He cast doubt on her career and job performance, arguing that “everywhere” she served “turned bad.”
“She started off in Somalia, how did that go?” Trump tweeted.
Schiff interrupted the hearing to let Yovanovitch know that the president was tweeting about her, and asked whether she felt intimidated by his messages. She suggested that she did.
Cruz strongly pushed back against Schiff’s assertion, arguing that Trump’s tweets cannot possibly amount to intimidation, let alone be considered an impeachable offense.
“This may be the single most ridiculous claim of the Dem show trial,” the Texas Republican said.
“No, the President’s tweeting is not ‘witness intimidation,’ he argued.
“You may not like the tone of some or even many of his tweets, but it’s absurd to suggest that tweeting is an impeachable ‘high Crime [or] Misdemeanor,'” Cruz added.
Cruz has, like virtually all Republicans in the United States Congress, defended Trump against Democratic accusations, dismissing Democratic investigations as partisan and politically-motivated.
In a recent Twitter message, for instance, Cruz criticized the Democrats for reportedly conducting focus groups to determine which term to use to describe the president’s conduct.
Cruz said that “articles of impeachment shouldn’t just be whatever your focus group says polls best,” blasting the Democratic Party and the media.
According to Schiff and other Democrats in the House of Representatives, Trump pressured the government of Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, and other perceived political opponents.
Rep. Adam Schiff: "We will send that charlatan in the White House back to the golden throne he came from." pic.twitter.com/YdpVaeWTEj— The Hill (@thehill) November 17, 2019
Trump conditioned military aid to Ukraine on these investigations, thus committing an impeachable offense, according to House Democrats, whose claims are based on a complaint filed by an anonymous whistleblower.
Schiff is one of the key figures in the impeachment probe, given that he chairs the House Intelligence Committee, so Republicans have been taking aim at him as well.
Signaling determination to push back, Schiff vowed on Saturday that Democrats will beat “charlatan” Trump in 2020.