Fox News senior Capitol Hill producer Chad Pergram provided some cover for Donald Trump on Friday after the president unleashed a Twitter attack on former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch while she was testifying before Congress, noting that “witness intimidation” isn’t featured in the Constitution as it relates to impeachment.
Friday’s open impeachment hearing took a dramatic turn when House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) read aloud the president’s tweet, prompting Yovanovitch to respond: “I can’t speak to what the president’s trying to do but I think the effect is to be intimidating.”
Immediately after the hearing went into recess, Fox News anchor Bret Baier didn’t pull any punches, pointing out that the hearing “turned on a dime” with the Trump tweet.
“That enabled Schiff to then characterize that tweet as intimidating the witness or tampering with the witness, which is a crime,” Baier added. “Adding essentially an article of impeachment real-time.”
Baier wasn’t the only Fox News on-air personality to express how the president’s ill-advised tweet spelled bad news for him. Fox News anchor Chris Wallace said, “I think if you are not moved by the testimony of Marie Yovanovitch today you don’t have a pulse,” while Fox News contributor Ken Starr, a reliable Trump defender, lectured Trump.
“The president was not advised by counsel in deciding to do this tweet,” the former independent counsel declared. “Extraordinarily poor judgment…obviously this was quite injurious.”
A short time later, however, Pergram appeared to somewhat rebuke Baier.
“Something else that was said by Adam Schiff, the chair of the Intelligence Committee, he indicated that this might be an attempt to intimidate the witness,” the Fox “hard-news” reporter said. “When we look at the U.S. constitution and we look at Article 2, Section 4, it doesn’t say anything about witness intimidation.”
“It talks about high crimes, misdemeanors, bribery, a theme we’ve heard,” Pergram added. “You can see potentially Democrats could use that moment to try to tie that into an article of impeachment. And something else very important, this is the second day of these hearings here. We have not had a moment in the hearing on Wednesday, until this morning, that kind of crystallized—that was emblematic—of these hearings. You often have it in these large, high-profile hearings. So far, heretofore, that is that moment."
It should be noted, however, that both former Presidents Bill Clinton and Richard Nixon faced articles of impeachment that included charges that they tried to influence the testimonies of witnesses.