Why Trump Attacked Marie Yovanovitch

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The Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, herself a longtime Trump target, said, “He made a mistake. I think part of it is his own insecurity as an impostor … he knows full well he’s in that office way over his head. And so, he has to diminish everyone else.” Trump has a history of diminishing women, of taking them down when he feels challenged by them.

In the very first presidential debate, Fox News’s Megyn Kelly dared to note, “You’ve called women you don’t like fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals.” Trump seemed shocked and, from that moment on, Kelly told The New York Times, “The relentless campaign that Trump unleashed on me and Fox News to try to get coverage the way he liked it was unprecedented and potentially very dangerous.” He attacked on Twitter, his preferred rage medium, and told an interviewer that Kelly “had blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her, wherever.” The presidential candidate called her a bimbo, a lightweight, a liar, crazy, and sick. She had to hire a bodyguard.

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Why Trump Attacked Marie Yovanovitch

About Yovanovitch

Trump tends to get particularly stuck on women he feels threatened by. He once tweeted (and then deleted) this rhetorical question about Hillary Clinton: “If Hillary Clinton can’t satisfy her husband, what makes her think she can satisfy America?” Here’s a very incomplete list of women Trump has disparaged: Mika Brzezinski (low-I.Q. Crazy Mika), Rosie O’Donnell (disgusting, both inside and out), Elizabeth Warren (Goofy, Pocahontas), and Katy Tur (a third-rate journalist). He said of four congresswomen: “The ‘Squad’ is a very Racist group of troublemakers who are young, inexperienced, and not very smart.” Often he feels the need to claim that his female opponents are stupid.

Yes, he attacks men too, sometimes viciously. But the first two days of impeachment testimony provided something like a controlled experiment, where the only difference between the two trials, the only variable, was gender. When Taylor and Kent testified, the worst they got was a tweet about how they “stared straight ahead with a blank look on their face.” Mostly, Trump retweeted his supporters’ favorable analysis. Yovanovitch, however, got the tweet implying she’s responsible for conditions in Somalia; she got the rage.

Why Trump Attacked Marie Yovanovitch

“Now the president, in real time, is attacking you. What effect do you think that has on other witnesses’ willingness to come forward and expose wrongdoing?” Schiff asked. Yovanovitch replied, “It’s very intimidating.” And so Trump made his supporters’ case just a little harder. The president is first and foremost, at his core, a bully who uses intimidation to get what he wants, and what he wants is to silence all those uppity women. Even when he must know, on some level, that the attacks are damaging, he can’t help himself.

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is a contributor to The Daily Beast, The Bulwark, Playboy, and Glamour. She is the author of three novels.

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