President Trump on Friday continued to rail against the ongoing impeachment inquiry launched by House Democrats, saying there is no need to hold public hearings because he did nothing wrong in his “perfect” call asking the president of Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter. And besides, the president said, “We’re kicking their ass.”
Speaking to reporters on the South Lawn, Trump dismissed what many observers consider damning testimony from current and former administration officials released this week by House investigators.
“I’m not concerned about anything. The testimony has all been fine,” the president said, adding that “for the most part, I’ve never heard of these people. I have no idea who they are.”
Transcripts of closed-door depositions with the following Trump administration officials were released this week: William Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine; U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland; Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent; former special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker; former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch; and former top State Department adviser Michael McKinley.
The first public hearings in the impeachment probe will begin Wednesday, when Taylor and Kent will appear on Capitol Hill in an open session.
“They shouldn’t be having public hearings,” Trump said. “This is a hoax. This is just like the Russian witch hunt.”
On Thursday, Trump complained that House rules prevent White House lawyers from defending him during the open hearings in the House.
“It was just explained to me that for next weeks Fake Hearing (trial) in the House, as they interview Never Trumpers and others, I get NO LAWYER & NO DUE PROCESS,” the president tweeted. “It is a Pelosi, Schiff, Scam against the Republican Party and me. This Witch Hunt should not be allowed to proceed!”
Should Trump be impeached in the House, he would stand trial in the Senate, during which his lawyers would have the opportunity to cross-examine and call witnesses.
The impeachment inquiry itself was triggered by an anonymous whistleblower in the intelligence community who flagged a July 25 phone call during which Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate the Bidens as well as a debunked conspiracy theory advanced by the president’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani about the 2016 election. At the time of the call, Trump had ordered that nearly $400 million in U.S. military aid to Ukraine be withheld from Kiev.
The White House released an edited memo summarizing the call with Zelensky, which Trump wrongly claims was a “word for word” transcript.
“All that matters is one thing: the transcript. And the transcript is perfect,” Trump said, adding that he had a second, earlier call with Zelensky that he is willing to release.
“If they want it, I’ll give it to ’em,” he said.
Trump again called for the unmasking of the whistleblower, whose identity is protected by federal law, and suggested that person be sued “for treason.”
“The whistleblower is a disgrace to our country,” the president said.
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