SAN FRANCISCO – President Trump may not be in the room to impeachment historical hearings poll your involvement in a campaign pressuring Ukraine to investigate its political rivals, but the sheer reach of its Twitter account put it there on Friday.
"While you are sitting witnessing, the president is attacking you on Twitter," said Adam Yiffan, president of the House of Intelligence Services, to Marie Yovanovitch, former US ambassador to Ukraine and a key figure in the government lobbying campaign. .
During Yovanovitch's Testimony In the impeachment inquiry, Schiff read the tweets, giving the career diplomat, who was removed from office in May, the opportunity to respond in real time.
Speaking to reporters during a break in the audience, Schiff strongly condemned the president's tweets, which he called "real-time witness bullying".
It was a remarkable moment: Twitter was not only influencing the way Americans view impeachment audiences, but also shaping the course of the proceedings.
"The president was injecting himself and giving unofficial testimony and immediate rebuttals when not invited," said Jennifer Grygiel, assistant professor of communications at the University of Syracuse, who studies social media. "He was giving his opinion on the situation in real time."
The Internet was in its infancy since the last time an incumbent president, Bill Clinton, was targeted for wall-to-wall impeachment coverage in 1998, with no viral reach from social media or its many ills, from bot armies that spread theories of unbridled misinformation conspiracy by domestic and foreign actors.
Today, social media has made television, radio and newspapers the ideal place to follow – and regret – the coverage of hyperpartisan events. On Facebook, Trump and Senator Elizabeth Warren posted thousands of impeachment ads to light your bases.
Following a political rally in Louisiana on Thursday, Trump tweeted, "Democrats must apologize to the US," adding that "THE FALSE IMPACT INQUIRY IS DEAD!"
In tens of thousands of tweets, Trump transformed his @realDonaldTrump Twitter account, with nearly 67 million followers, into official broadcasting channel of his presidency. He routinely ignores the traditional media, whether it is launching missiles that move the market on Chinese tariffs or attacking its political enemies.
Some of his supporters wear T-shirts that say, "Trump's tweets are important." That they do.
This is how Trump's Twitter account led him to the committee room in front of the Capitol on Friday, with his live tweets becoming part of testimony to whether Trump's political interests influenced US policy toward Ukraine.
Yovanovitch claims he was the target of a "defamation campaign" by Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani and other president allies. During his testimony, Trump attacked Yovanovitch on Twitter, saying that everywhere she went in her career as a diplomat "got bad". Asked about Trump's tweet, Yovanovitch called the comment "intimidating."
Trump's attacks on Yovanovitch attracted a reaction Democrats and even some of Trump's Republican allies, though some defended him. Former independent adviser Ken Starr, who often supports the president, told Fox News: "I must say that the president was not advised by the lawyer when deciding to tweet. Judgment extraordinarily bad." New York Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik, a member of the Intelligence Committee, said she disagreed with Trump's attack on Yovanovitch.
This is certainly not the first time the president has teleported to official proceedings via Twitter.
"He appears in many things, such as (Brett) Kavanaugh Audiencesessentially every time something is said that he wants to convince people in his favor, "Grygiel said.
In an email statement, Twitter said the president's tweets "do not violate the Twitter Rules." Despite criticism from the left, the company has a policy mainly without intervention when it comes to the president's tweets.
In October, when Senator Kamala Harris, the Democratic presidential candidate, asked on Twitter to suspend Trump's accountTwitter reiterated its policy: tweets from world leaders are not above the law, but even those that violate Twitter's policies will not be removed if they have a "clear public interest value".
The phrase "I hired Donald Trump to fire people like Yovanovitch" tended to Twitter on Friday morning, as Yovanovitch testified. Twitter told BuzzFeed News The company was investigating whether the tweet explosion was coordinated. Several accounts were later suspended, the news agency said.