Trump: Democrats’ impeachment inquiry ‘unpatriotic’
US President Donald Trump has attacked Democrats’ impeachment investigation into his conduct as “very unpatriotic”.
Speaking at a Nato summit in London, he said the congressional inquiry was a “bad thing for our country”.
“I’m not even thinking about it,” the Republican president insisted of the impeachment drama.
A US House of Representatives panel is to release a report on Tuesday laying out the case to remove Mr Trump from office.
What did Trump say?
Speaking beside Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Tuesday, Mr Trump told reporters: “I think it’s very unpatriotic for the Democrats to put on a performance where they do that.
“I do. I think it’s a bad thing for our country. Impeachment wasn’t supposed to be used that way.”
He repeated his assertion that his July call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, which is at the centre of the impeachment inquiry, was “absolutely perfect”.
Democrats says Mr Trump pressured his counterpart during the phone conversation to announce a corruption investigation into White House candidate Joe Biden in the hope of discrediting him.
Mr Trump also denied that the impeachment hearings had weakened his negotiating position at the Nato summit marking the Western military alliance’s 70th anniversary.
“I don’t think so. I know most of the leaders,” Mr Trump said. “I get along with them. It’s a hoax. The impeachment is a hoax.”
In the same meeting, ahead of next week’s UK general election, Mr Trump called himself a “fan of Brexit” and criticised French President Emmanuel Macron’s “nasty” comments on Nato.
While in London Mr Trump held a hotel fundraiser for his 2020 election campaign that was expected to raise $3m (£2.3m), a Republican official told AP News.
Want to find out more?
What’s the latest with the impeachment inquiry?
The House Intelligence Committee is expected to vote along party lines on Tuesday evening to approve its report summing up the evidence against President Trump.
The report will be submitted to the House Judiciary Committee, which will begin its own proceedings on Wednesday, hours before Mr Trump is due to return to Washington.
The judiciary panel’s hearings will begin with four constitutional scholars, who will explain how impeachment works.
The White House has refused to participate in the hearings, citing a lack of “fairness”.
What are Republicans saying?
Ahead of the intelligence committee’s report, House Republicans released a separate 123-page report that condemned the “unelected bureaucrats” who testified, saying they “fundamentally disagreed with President Trump’s style, world view and decisions”.
The document accuses Democrats of “trying to undo the will of the American people” and argues that they have been trying to depose the president since his first day in office.
“None of the Democrats’ witnesses testified to having evidence of bribery, extortion, or any high crime or misdemeanours,” it argues, in reference to the constitutional clause that permits the removal of a president.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff dismissed the Republican rebuttal, saying it was “intended for an audience of one”, referring to Mr Trump.
He added that it “ignores voluminous evidence that the president used the power of his office to pressure Ukraine”.
What is Trump accused of?
Democrats say Mr Trump dangled two bargaining chips – $400m (£309m) of military aid to Ukraine that had already been allocated by Congress, and a White House meeting with Ukraine’s new leader. They think this political pressure on a vulnerable US ally amounts to an abuse of power.
The first investigation Mr Trump wanted from Ukraine was into one of his main Democratic challengers, Joe Biden, and his son Hunter. Hunter joined the board of a Ukrainian company when Joe Biden was US vice-president.
The second Trump demand was that Ukraine try to corroborate a conspiracy theory that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in the last US presidential election. This theory has been widely debunked, and the US intelligence agencies are unanimous in saying Moscow was behind the hacking of Democratic Party emails in 2016.
How does impeachment work?
Impeachment is the first part – the charges – of a two-stage political process by which Congress can remove a president from office.
If, following the hearings, the House of Representatives votes to pass articles of impeachment, the Senate is forced to hold a trial.
A Senate vote requires a two-thirds majority to convict and remove the president – unlikely in this case, given that Mr Trump’s party controls the chamber.
Only two US presidents in history – Bill Clinton and Andrew Johnson – have been impeached, but neither was convicted.
President Richard Nixon resigned before he could be impeached.