WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump, facing looming impeachment charges in the U.S. House, set his sights Thursday on the next stage of his defense, urging House Democrats leading the impeachment process to “do it now, fast,” so that a subsequent trial in the Republican majority Senate could proceed.
Trump in a series of tweets denounced House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, following her announcement that the Democratic caucus had “no choice” but to move forward with drafting articles of impeachment against the president over his dealings with Ukraine. The president asserted that congressional Republicans “have NEVER been more united” behind his defense, as he called on Democrats to move swiftly with a House impeachment vote.
“Therefore I say, if you are going to impeach me, do it now, fast, so we can have a fair trial in the Senate, and so that our Country can get back to business,” Trump tweeted Thursday morning hours before Pelosi spoke.
Bracing for an all but certain impeachment in the U.S. House, Trump and White House officials have started to prepare for a trial in the Senate, in which the president has many Republican allies.
Trump tweeted a wish list of top Democrats he would call to testify in a senate hearing — including Pelosi, House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), and 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden — but the likelihood of those officials being compelled to testify remains unclear as Senate leaders have yet to negotiate rules for a trial that would come if the House votes to impeach the president.
Trump on Twitter said Democrats “are going to seek to impeach me over NOTHING” as he continued to defend his push to have Ukraine launch an investigation into his Democratic political rivals after he temporarily suspended nearly $400 million in U.S. military aid to assist Ukraine in its defense against Russia.
“They already gave up on the ridiculous Mueller ‘stuff,’ so now they hang their hats on two totally appropriate (perfect) phone calls with the Ukrainian President,” Trump tweeted referring to special counsel Robert Mueller’s two-year investigation into Russian election interference and Trump’s alleged attempts to obstruct the investigation.
Trump, asked by reporters at the White House if he was concerned impeachment would tarnish his legacy, said: “No, not at all … it’s a hoax, it’s a big fat hoax.”
White House officials, who for weeks have cast the House Democrat-led impeachment inquiry as partisan and unfair, offered a more optimistic assessment of the Republican-run Senate.
Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale in a statement urged House Democrats to “just get on with it,” so that the Senate trial could proceed.
White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway, appearing on Fox News, said: "The entire point of the trial in the Senate would be to get to the facts.”
Tony Sayegh, a former Treasury Department spokesman now advising the president on impeachment, told Fox News the White House will wait until Friday to respond to an invitation by the House Judiciary Committee for Trump’s legal team to participate in the upcoming impeachment hearings.
Asked about Trump’s willingness to testify before lawmakers, Sayegh said: "Of course, he would want to testify, in his mind, but anybody knows that an attorney would kind of, maybe counsel their clients differently."