Adam Schiff is just blowing smoke with 'witness intimidation' bluster

Adam Schiff is just blowing smoke with 'witness intimidation' bluster
© Greg Nash

Is House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffOVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Trump pardons Flynn | Lawmakers lash out at decision | Pentagon nixes Thanksgiving dining hall meals due to COVID-19 Democratic impeachment leaders blast Trump's pardon of Flynn Trump pardons Michael Flynn MORE really adding another article of impeachment over “witness intimidation” because President TrumpDonald John TrumpUSAID administrator tests positive for COVID-19 Kamala Harris, Stacey Abrams among nominees for Time magazine's 2020 Person of the Year DOJ appeals ruling preventing it from replacing Trump in E. Jean Carroll defamation lawsuit MORE tweeted criticism of a witness? There is no better proof that Democrats are making up their impeachment ploy as they go along.

Yet for all their grandstanding, there is just no way that the tweets about Marie YovanovitchMarie YovanovitchWhy it's time for a majority female Cabinet Giuliani associate Correia pleads guilty to making false statements Teenager who filmed George Floyd's death to be honored MORE could constitute witness intimidation, not the least because she was already testifying publicly when Trump sent them out. Witness intimidation is an action intended to make a witness so fearful of the consequences that he or she will not testify or potentially even lie.

The tweets about the reasons that Trump fired his own ambassador, about his own opinions of her job performance, and about her motivations for testifying are not intimidation. Yovanovitch herself admitted she has no firsthand knowledge of any alleged impeachable conduct. Her testimony amounted to an hours long human resources complaint surrounding the circumstances of her dismissal from the State Department. The tweets that Trump sent out during the hearing presented his side of the case.


Even if one accepts the allegation by Schiff at face value and interprets the tweets as a veiled threat against Yovanovitch, it still does should not constitute witness intimidation. Yovanovitch was already testifying at the time, and only found out about the tweets because Schiff read them to her. If somehow this knowledge of the tweets would have suddenly made Yovanovitch start lying on the stand, then one could argue that it was Schiff who was intimidating the witness by mentioning these tweets.

The biggest issue, however, is not that Schiff is wrong. He should know he is wrong, and he went out of his way to construct his absurd allegation. He has a law degree from Harvard University. He was a federal prosecutor. He knows full well that nothing in the tweets would be construed as “witness intimidation” by any court in the country. He clearly heard, probably from one of his staff members, that Trump was tweeting about the witness on the stand, and decided to see if he could use it to his political benefit.

What does that sort of dishonesty from the face of this impeachment say about the strength of the underlying case Democrats have against the president? It should tell you that Schiff knows how thin his case is, and that he is searching frantically for anything to strengthen the narrative for his party. His many contortions as the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee continue to expose the political motivations of this inquiry.

Madison Gesiotto is an attorney who serves with the advisory board of the Donald Trump campaign. You can follow her on Twitter @MadisonGesiotto.