WASHINGTON – Some of President Donald Trump's allies denounced his tweets attacking former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, though others defended him, as she testified before the House Intelligence Committee on Friday.
"Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad," the president tweeted at 10:01 a.m. EST, roughly an hour into the hearing and while Yovanovitch spoke.
Yovanovitch called Trump’s comments “very intimidating” after House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., read them aloud during the hearing about 20 minutes later.
Speaking to reporters during a break in the hearing, Schiff strongly condemned the president’s tweets, which he called “witness intimidation in real time.”
“Once again, going after this dedicated and respected career public servant in an effort to not only chill her but to chill others who may come forward," Schiff said.
Former Independent Counsel Ken Starr, who is often supportive of the president, told Fox News: "I must say that the president was not advised by counsel in deciding to do this tweet. Extraordinarily poor judgment."
Republican New York Rep. Elise Stefanik, a member of the Intelligence Committee, said she disagreed with Trump's attack on Yovanovitch.
"I disagree with the tweet," Stefanik said to reporters. "I think Ambassador Yovanovitch is a public servant, like many of our public servants in the foreign service."
Some Republicans leaving the hearing for a break defended Trump’s attacks of Yovanovitch, saying the president was not going to sit back without defending himself.
“The president’s going to defend himself,” said Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y. “There’s no way that if Democrats are going to insist on tearing our country in half with this impeachment charade, that the president’s just going to sit back and allow Adam Schiff to play this game.”
Zeldin said Democrats spent the morning with Yovanovitch attempting to “recreate” an episode that happened during her closed-door deposition last month when she got upset and started crying.
“They wanted her to cry for the cameras,” he said. “It’s unfortunate.”
Rep. Mark Meadows, a North Carolina Republican who normally is a vocal defender of the president, wouldn’t defend Trump or Yovanovitch after the Twitter attacks, only saying that he didn’t believe it would affect how the American people view these hearings.
“To suggest that there’s a whole lot of relevant testimony, as it relates to the impeachable offenses that the Democrats have alleged, I don’t see it being relevant,” he said.
Other Republicans declined to comment or said they had not seen the attack.
Rep. Devin Nunes, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, said he doesn’t “talk about Committee business,” though the tweet is public, and said he wouldn’t “acknowledge” or answer questions.
Rep. Doug Collins, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, said he hadn’t seen it and had been in meetings. When asked if he would like to read the president’s tweet, Collins said “I won’t comment on it.”
Others acknowledged that the timing of the president’s attack wasn’t great.
“It probably wasn’t the best call or the best timing to do that but I think he’s trying to send an overall message to keep the focus on the failed process and the substance,” Rep. Mark Walker, R-N.C. said.
“I don’t know that it’s witness intimidation. I think he’s just pointing out specifically that he doesn’t think she’s done a good job in some of the areas.”
Democrats, on the other hand, have cast the president’s tweets as witness intimidation, something that should see consequences.
“Any judge will tell you that they take great sensitivity to any witness that has been alleged to have been intimidated,” said Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas. “Witness intimidation is a well-known doctrine that warrants drastic consequences.”
White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham issued a statement on the president's tweets about Yovanovitch's record as she testified before House investigators. Grisham dismissed Democrats' claim that those tweets amounted to witness intimidation.
“The tweet was not witness intimidation, it was simply the President’s opinion, which he is entitled to. This is not a trial, it is a partisan political process - or to put it more accurately, a totally illegitimate, charade stacked against the President," she said.
"There is less due process in this hearing than any such event in the history of our country. It’s a true disgrace.”
Contributing: David Jackson, Jeanine Santucci
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trump tweets attack on ex-Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch