The vile, corrupt, angry, coarse Donald Trump appeared in full, disgusting display Thursday night at a rally in front of his dwindling “core” of supporters in Minneapolis.
In just three minutes, he churned out five major lies as his pitiful defense of his impeachable actions against the Constitution, the nation and its people.
He told his remaining rabid — and clueless — “fans” that Joe Biden “as only a good vice president because he figured out how to kiss Barack Obama’s ass.” That, of course, brought raucous cheers from the racists who dominate his base.
His displays of outright bigotry included attacks on Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), the first Somali-American in Congress.
Trump also mocked Omar, the first Somali-American in Congress.
“How hell did that ever happen?” he said of her election, adding: “Congresswoman Omar is an America-hating socialist.”
Rep Omar is a frequent target of a bigot like Trump. Earlier this year, he included her in an attack on four minority Democratic female members of Congress, saying they all should “to back and fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”
When Elaine Duke was acting director of homeland security, Trump screamed at for not doing more to “ban refugees from fucking Somalia.”
He ignored that all four of the women are American citizens and three of them were born in the United States.
Trump’s tone at the rally in Minneapolis brought outcries from social media.
“This is the kind hate rally ween in authoritarian and fascist countries,” posted Elad Nehori. “We Jews have seen this before, as have countless other minorities.”
And speaking of “totally broken and crime-infested places,” that description could easily describe Washington, DC, which is ever more so since Trump became this nation’s accidental president and Manhattan, which he is from.
Trump tirades came as more and more facts emerge on his corruption and the criminal actions of his administration. We’ve learned how he tried to get former Secretary of State Tex Tillerson to “intervene” in Ukrainian prosecution of an ally of his lawyer, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
“The modern day Hitler,” said Mara McEwin on Twitter. The red shirts, rec caps are the new brown shirts. Truly terrifying.”
“The special hate that Trump and the alt-right have for Somalis, above and beyond all other immigrant groups, has always fascinated and disgusted me,” posted Noah Smith.
Erin Maye Quade, a former Minnesota state rep, notes that Trump supporters bombed a mosque in Bloomington, MN, made death threats against a member of the Minnesota Congressional delegation and mailed bombs to Democrats.
“Many elected officials (with Somali constituents) were in attendance tonight,” she adds. “They should be asked about this.”
A lot of people should also be asked why they elected such a vile, despicable degenerate for president.
President Donald Trump Tuesday declared himself above the law and is refusing to cooperate or even acknowledge the impeachment inquiry by the Congressional House or Representatives.
“To fulfill his duties to the American people, the Constitution, the executive branch, and all future occupants of the Office of the presidency, President Trump and his administration cannot participate in your partisan and unconstitutional inquiry under these circumstances,” White House counsel Pat A. Cipollone claimed in a scathing eight-page letter to top congressional Democrats.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she is not surprise or deterred by Trump’s latest antics.
“The White House should be warned that continued efforts to hide the truth of the President’s abuse of power from the American people will be regarded as further evidence of obstruction,” Pelosi’s response said in a statement. “Mr. President, you are not above the law. You will be held accountable.”
Trump’s actions come as new polls show growing support for the impeachment inquiry. A new poll from Washington Post-School says a clear majority of Americans now endorse the decision by House Democrats and close to half of all adults say Congress should move to remove Trump from office.
Legal scholars note that the letter from the White House counsel “lacks substantive legal arguments” and repeats Trump’s “political broadsides” instead of valid claims. House Democrats say his failure to comply with the legal requests for information bolsters their case for at least one article of impeachment.
Trump’s latest actions come just a week he promised to cooperate with the inquiry.
“I always cooperate,” he said. “We’ll work together.”
Instead, the White House blocked an appearance Tuesday of Gordon D. Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, to testify on the impeachment inquiry.
The White House has put “a full halt” on any cooperation.
“I would love to send Ambassador Sondland, a really good man and great American, to testify,” the president wrote on Twitter Tuesday, “but unfortunately he would be testifying before a totally compromised kangaroo court, where Republican’s rights have been taken away.”
House leaders responded with a subpoena ordering Sondland to appear next week and turn over documents they are seeking.
“The president is obstructing Congress from getting the facts that we need,” Pelosi told reporters. “It is an abuse of power for him to act in this way.”
Text messages provided to Congress last week shows Sondland worked with Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani on a statement for the president of Ukraine committing to an investigation of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden while Trump was holding up $391 million in security aid to the country as leverage.
That effort led to the top American diplomat based in Ukraine to question Trump’s actions.
“As I said on the phone, I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign,” William B. Taylor Jr., the diplomat, wrote in early September.
Republican Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin later told The Wall Street Journal that Sondland confirmed to him that release of the aid was contingent upon Ukraine opening the investigation of Biden.
Robert Luskin, Sondland’s lawyer, said Tuesday that his client, as a State Department employee had to comply with Trump’s demand that he not testify, but added that Sondland was “profoundly disappointed” that he not allowed to appear and promised he would do o “in the future if allowed.”
“We were looking forward to hearing from Ambassador Sondland,” said Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, top Republican on the Oversight and Reform Committee.
Legal experts say Trump is on thin ice by trying to block what is considered a legal Congressional impeachment inquiry.
“I think the goal of this letter is to further inflame the president’s supporters and attempt to delegitimize the process in the eyes of his supporters,” Stephen Vladeck, a law professor at the University of Texas, tells The Associated Press. “It does not strike me as an effort to provide sober legal analysis.”
Philadelphia attorney Gregg Nunziata calls the White House letter a “direct assault on the very legitimacy of Congress’ oversight authority.”
“The Founders very deliberately chose to put the impeachment power in a political branch rather the Supreme Court,” Nunziata told The Associated Press. “They wanted this to be a political process and it is.”
University of Louisiana political science professor G. Pearson Cross calls the latter “an accelerant on a smoldering fire.”
“It’s a response that seems to welcome a constitutional crisis rather than defusing one or pointing toward some strategy that would deescalate the situation,” Cross added.
Ohio’a Rob Portman Monday became the fourth Republican Senator to admit president Donald Trump’s use of his office to seek help from Ukraine and China to investigate a political appointment is “inappropriate.”
Portman joins Mitt Romney of Utah, Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Susan Collins of Maine to break from the Republican ranks in the Senate and raise questions about Trump’s actions that led to a formal impeachment inquiry against Trump.
“We now have cracks in the wall,” says one GOP senior staff member in the Senate. “Will it start crumbling?”
While Portman admits Trump’s actions are “not appropriate,” he still claims he does not see them as “impeachable offenses” and feels the House “rushed to impeachment assuming things.”
But Trump is running into increasing questions from his one-solid wall of support from the GOP Senate. Majority leader Mitch McConnell Monday joined a rare bi-partisan group of Republican and Democratic Senator in rebuking Trump’s plan to withdraw U.S. troopers from Syria.
“A precipitous withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria would only benefit Russia, Iran, and the Assad regime,” McConnell said in a statement. “And it would increase the risk that ISIS and other terrorist groups regroup.”
McConnell says it is time for Trump to “exercise American leadership” by reconsidering his plans to pull troops back from the Syrian-Turkey border. Other Republicans in the Senate agree.
“This betrayal of the Kurds will also severely harm our credibility as an ally the world over,” Sen. Patrick J. Toomey (R-Pa.) said. “President Trump should rethink this decision immediately.”
Democrats have also condemned the withdrawal plans but the growing Republican opposition shows a new area of concern from Republicans.
“The Trump has made a great administration has made a grave mistake that will have implications,” said Sen. GOP Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).
“So sad. So dangerous” says usually staunch Trump ally Sen Lindsey Graham (R-SC) on Twitter. “President Trump may be tired of fighting radical Islam. They are NOT tired of fighting us.”
At least one Republican says criticism of the Syria move wile standing fast with Trump on the Ukraine debacle that has resulted in formal impeachment probes is hypocritical, at best.
“The Ukraine issue is personal, it is a real threat to the president, and a lot of Republicans know they will face his wrath if they defy him,” former congressman Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.), a critic of Trump who was ousted in the 2018 midterms, tells The Washington Post. “The issue of our presence in Syria is more obviously a substantive policy issue, where it’s safer to disagree with the president. If Republicans want to be consistent, they should speak out about both.”
“They can speak up, but they can’t so anything,” says former senator Judd Gregg (R-NH).
One thing it has done is bring Republicans and Democrats together in a rare bipartisan rebuke of Trump.
McConnell says 68 Senators voted to rebuke Trump in January when he threatened to withdraw troops from Syria — a majority that overrides a presidential veto.
“The conditions that produced that bipartisan vote still exist today,” he says.
A joint statement from Sen. Romney (R-Utah) and Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn) adds:
Barring a reversal of this decision, the Administration must come before Congress and explain how betraying an ally and ceding influence to terrorists and adversaries is not disastrous for our national security interests.
With four Republican Senators also now saying Trump’s actions with Ukraine and China in asking for help to discredit former Vice President Joe Biden are “inappropriate” and “out of line,” some wonder if Trump’s hold on the GOP is weakening.
Notice to all who continue to support corrupt president Donald Trump and his immoral, unethical and illegal administration: Your support shows contempt for America and makes you a traitor to your country.
The Republican Party of Trump abandoned all pretense of conservative values and patriotism when it became followers of the con artist and sexual predator who openly loots the U.S. Treasury to fatten his wallet.
“This was the week that made it glaringly clear that the president put his fragile ego, idiotic conspiracy theories and political prospects ahead of American national security interests,” adds Maureen Dowd.
Cindy McCain, widow of the late Sen. John McCain, says the Republican Party of Trump is “not the party that my husband and I belonged to.”
“Donald Trump is not a patriot,” says Dana Milbank of The Washington Post. “Again and again, he has harmed the nation’s interests to further his own.”
He lies, he chases conspiracy theories, he’s racist, he abuses power, he’s cruel. The common thread — a unified theory of Trump, if you will — is that the man who promised an “America First” agenda is instead pursuing a “Trump First” agenda. This is the Me Presidency.
Max Boot says Trump is attempting a “coup against the checks and balances of the Constitution.”
And those who help him, he adds, are the Republicans who have abandoned America all that it is supposed to represent.
The odds are that almost all will betray the country rather than the president. So here is the bitter irony: The “Republican” Party has become a threat to republican governance.
“An already unpopular president certainly cannot be given another term.” writes Jennifer Rubin. “They might even conclude Republicans who protected him have not earned their ongoing trust.”
She suggests the GOP start paying more attention to new polls.
“Keep an eye on the polling,” she adds. “Republicans surely do, and right now it is telling them that leaving Trump on the ticket makes their political survival difficult, if not impossible.”
As a one-time GOP political operative (during an ill-conceived “sabbatical” to the bark side of politics), I saw the deterioration of the Republican Party from the inside.
One could ask if the party is even worth saving? More important, however, is whether the nation should be saved.
Jeff Flake, a one-term GOP Senator who left because he could not stand Trump and probably not would not have survived his re-election effort in 2018, says his party must make the tough decision to put the nation above the questionable interests of the party that abandoned its principles.
My fellow Republicans, it is time to risk your careers in favor of your principles. Whether you believe the president deserves impeachment, you know he does not deserve reelection.
Our country will have more presidents. But principles, well, we get just one crack at those. For those who want to put America first, it is critically important at this moment in the life of our country that we all, here and now, do just that.
Trust me when I say you can go elsewhere for a job. But you cannot go elsewhere for a soul.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the State Department intends to follow the law in the House impeachment investigation and vigorously defended President Donald Trump, dismissing questions about the president’s attempts to push Ukraine and China to investigate a Democratic political rival.
The Trump administration and House Democrats often disagree about what the law requires, leaving open the question of how Pompeo may interpret Democrats’ demands for key information about Trump’s handling of Ukraine.
Pompeo, speaking Saturday in Greece, said the State Department sent a letter to Congress Friday night as its initial response to the document request and added, “We’ll obviously do all the things that we’re required to do by law.” He has allowed Democrats to interview a series of witnesses next week. Among them is Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, another key figure in the probe.
The administration has struggled to come up with a unified response to the quickly progressing investigation. Democrats have warned that defying their demands will in itself be considered “evidence of obstruction” and a potentially impeachable offense.
Pompeo has become a key figure in the Democrats’ investigation. He was on the line during the July phone call in which Trump pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter — sparking a whistleblower complaint and now the impeachment inquiry.
Pompeo had initially tried to delay a handful of current and former officials from cooperating with the inquiry and accused Democrats trying to “bully” his staffers.
On Saturday, Pompeo did not back off his defense of Trump’s call with Ukraine.
“There has been some suggestion somehow that it would be inappropriate for the United States government to engage in that activity and I see it just precisely the opposite,” he said.
Trump has offered a series of contradictory statements when it comes to the Democrats’ subpoena of White House records.
Asked Wednesday whether the White House intended to comply, Trump told reporters, “I always cooperate,” even as he dismissed the inquiry as “a hoax.” A day later, however, Trump had a different answer for the same question, saying he would instead leave the matter to his lawyers.
“That’s up to them to decide,” he said, “But the whole investigation is crumbling.”
By Friday, however, Trump confirmed reports the White House was preparing a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., arguing that Congress cannot undertake an impeachment investigation without first having a vote to authorize it. Pelosi has insisted the House is well within its rules to conduct oversight of the executive branch under the Constitution regardless.
It was unclear Saturday when or if that letter would be sent.
Pompeo, meanwhile, made clear that the State Department had yet to turn over any document, but intended to follow a proper review. And he said he would do so faster than the Obama administration.
“I remember precisely once when I was on that side and we were looking for documents, I remember precisely how long it took for those documents to come across,” he said in an apparent reference to his experience as a congressman during the investigation into the 2012 attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya.
“We’re going to beat that. We’re going to be more responsive than the Obama administration was in the years that preceded this particular Congress,” he said.
A congressional aide familiar with Pompeo’s response confirmed that the State Department had indeed been in contact, even if Pompeo had failed to meet a Friday deadline to produce documents required by the subpoena.
Trump, meanwhile, continued to see the Saturday, denouncing the investigation as yet another “Witch Hunt!” and “a fraud against the American people!”
In a series of tweets Saturday, including several sent as his presidential motorcade ferried him back and forth to his Virginia golf course, Trump defended his conduct and lashed out at critics, including a past foil, Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah.
“I’m hearing that the Great People of Utah are considering their vote for their Pompous Senator, Mitt Romney, to be a big mistake. I agree! He is a fool who is playing right into the hands of the Do Nothing Democrats!” Trump wrote. He ended his tweet with an extraordinary call to impeach a senator from his own party.
Yet Romney was joined Saturday in his criticism by a second Republican senator, Susan Collins of Maine, who said “it’s not OK” for a president to encourage a foreign state to investigate a political rival.
Speaking after a firefighter memorial service in Maine, Collins said Trump made a “big mistake” when he piled on his outreach to Ukraine by publicly calling on China to investigate the Bidens.
Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska is the only other Republican senator to publicly criticize the president’s comments that further fueled an impeachment inquiry.
Lawmakers are focused on Trump’s efforts to push Ukraine to investigate the Bidens. A whistleblower complaint said that Trump sought to use military assistance for Ukraine as leverage to push the newly elected Zelenskiy to launch an inquiry into the 2020 Democratic hopeful.
Late Thursday, House investigators released a cache of text messages that showed top U.S. diplomats encouraging Zelenskiy to conduct an investigation linked to Biden’s family in return for granting a high-profile visit with Trump in Washington.
The release followed a 10-hour interview with one of the diplomats, Kurt Volker, who stepped down as special envoy to Ukraine after the impeachment inquiry had begun.
Lee reported from Athens, Greece. Associated Press writer Mary Clare Jalonick contributed to this report.
On Aug. 7, 1974, three top Republican leaders in Congress paid a solemn visit to President Richard Nixon at the White House, bearing the message that he faced near-certain impeachment due to eroding support in his own party on Capitol Hill. Nixon, who’d been entangled in the Watergate scandal for two years, announced his resignation the next day.
Could a similar drama unfold in later stages of the impeachment process that Democrats have now initiated against President Donald Trump? It’s doubtful. In Nixon’s time, there were conservative Democrats and moderate Republicans. Compromise was not treated with scorn.
In today’s highly polarized Washington, bipartisan agreement is a rarity. And Trump has taken over the Republican Party, accruing personal rather than party loyalty and casting the GOP establishment to an ineffectual sideline.
“In the past in the U.S., party members would dissociate themselves from disgraced leaders in order to preserve the party and their own reputations,” said professor Nick Smith, who teaches ethics and political philosophy at the University of New Hampshire. “But now President Trump seems to have such a personal hold on the party — more like a cult leader than a U.S. president — that the exits are closed as the party transforms into his image.”
The delegation that visited Nixon was headed by Sen. Barry Goldwater of Arizona, the GOP’s unsuccessful presidential candidate in 1964. Goldwater, who had a long tenure as a party elder, was joined by Sen. Hugh Scott of Pennsylvania, a Republican known for his strong support for civil rights, and Rep. John Rhodes of Arizona — the GOP leaders in their respective chambers.
They told Nixon there were no longer enough Republican votes to spare him from impeachment, given the release two days earlier of a 1972 tape recording contradicting Nixon’s tenacious denial of any role in cover-up of the Watergate break-in.
“He’d been proclaiming his innocence and suddenly they’ve got this evidence showing he’s been lying all this time,” said Thomas Schwartz, a history and political science professor at Vanderbilt University. “We don’t have the equivalent of that now.”
For now, though, Trump has a firewall in the form of Republicans who see more harm in opposing him than supporting him. Cal Jillson, a political science professor at Southern Methodist University, cited the increased political polarization of recent years as a reason why most Republican officials will stick with Trump “as long as their own status is not in danger.”
“For the president’s partisans in Congress, it’s ‘our guy on his worst day is better than your guy on his best day,’” Jillson said. “They stick with him to get the judicial appointments, the tax cuts.”
That would change if Trump’s troubles become so serious that congressional leaders think it will affect them and their party, Jillson said.
“Everyone among the Republicans in Congress has a beef with the president but they’re afraid of him,” said Jillson. “If he weakens, that fear will subside.”
The Watergate scandal overlapped with late stages of the Vietnam War, which had bedeviled both Nixon and his Democratic predecessor, Lyndon Johnson. In that era, Congress was more powerful in relation to the executive branch than it is now, with more leaders of national stature, several experts suggested.
Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center, suggested that with the death last year of Arizona Sen. John McCain, there’s no Republican currently in Congress who could replicate Goldwater’s 1974 role.
“Who would go and be credible with Donald Trump, so that he would listen?” she asked. “Mitt Romney? Mitch McConnell? Lindsay Graham? Trump will turn on any of them the minute they say something uncongenial.”
A key then-and-now difference, Jamieson said, is that Goldwater represented the same conservative constituency as Nixon and conveyed the message that Nixon was losing its support.
Trump, she said, has a different relationship with his base than Nixon did with his: The base is loyal to Trump personally, rather than to a party establishment.
During Trump’s first two years in office, one of the few Republicans in Congress to tangle regularly with him was Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, who decided not to seek reelection in 2018. In a column in The Washington Post on Oct. 1, Flake lambasted his fellow Republicans still in Congress for failure to break with Trump and oppose his reelection.
“At this point, the president’s conduct in office should not surprise us. But truly devastating has been our tolerance of that conduct,” Flake wrote. “From the ordeal of this presidency, perhaps the most horrible — and lasting — effect on our democracy will be that at some point we simply stopped being shocked.”
David Gibbs, a political science professor at the University of Arizona, recalled that Nixon had won reelection by a landslide in 1972, and yet many people who supported him, including Republicans in Congress, were willing to turn against him as evidence of a Watergate conspiracy accumulated.
In contrast, Gibbs now sees the United States as divided 50-50 along the “tribal lines” of Democrats versus Republicans, with Trump’s base remaining loyal no matter what sort of negative picture is painted by his critics.
“The two sides are roughly evenly matched, with neither one able to deliver a knockout blow, and thus there’s political paralysis,” Gibbs said. “The hyper-partisan tribalism makes bipartisan consensus for removing a president virtually impossible.”
Another big change since 1974 is the proliferation of media outlets and the advent of social media, which is used by Trump himself and partisans on all sides to promote their agendas and demonize opponents. Nixon had neither the equivalent of Fox News to support him nor the soapbox of Twitter to accuse his detractors of treason and witch-hunting.
The changing media landscape “has resulted in a political and news environment that moves at light speed compared with the Watergate era,” said David Cohen, a University of Akron political science professor. “The sheer information we are inundated with daily is like drinking out of a fire hose and it is impossible to swallow it all.”
Republican leaders are reacting in two ways to President Donald Trump’s public call for another foreign government, China, to investigate his political rival: silence and support.
Several House and Senate leaders stayed mum Thursday as Trump escalated the controversy that has fueled an impeachment inquiry and plowed through another norm of American politics. Foreign interference in elections has long been viewed as a threat to U.S. sovereignty and the integrity of democracy, and soliciting foreign help in an election is illegal.
But Trump found support in his willingness to openly challenge that convention. Vice President Mike Pence made clear he backed the president and believes he is raising “appropriate” issues. Other allies agreed.
“I don’t think there’s anything improper about doing that,” GOP Sen. Ron Johnson, chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, said of Trump’s call on China to investigate the business dealings of Hunter Biden, the son of leading Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.
The responses followed a familiar pattern in the age of Trump. As the president broke another political barrier, his party leaders made no public effort to rein him in. Critics have argued that reaction has only emboldened the president, while doing lasting damage to the party and the presidency. Trump allies argue the president’s rule-breaking rhetoric is not as important as his policies, which they support.
But the silence this time also reflects a sharper dilemma for Republicans. As Democrats pursue an impeachment investigation, Republicans have been struggling with how best to shield themselves — and the unpredictable president who may decide their political fortunes — from the steady drip of new revelations. With little guidance from the White House, lawmakers have tried to say as little as possible, blame Democrats or express vague optimism about the investigative process. Trump’s remarks Thursday demonstrated the limits of that strategy.
Standing outside the White House, Trump defended himself against allegations that he privately pressured Ukraine to investigate the Bidens by inviting a geopolitical rival to launch a probe.
“China should start an investigation into the Bidens,” Trump said after being asked about trade negotiations with the country.
Shortly afterward, speaking at an event in Arizona, Pence argued that the Bidens’ ties to Ukraine are of interest to the American people.
“There are legitimate questions that ought to be asked. We will continue to ask them because the American people have a right to know whether or not the vice president of the United States or his family profited from his position,” he said.
One of the party’s most vulnerable senators, Arizona’s Martha McSally, stood at Pence’s side at the stop in Scottsdale. McSally has blasted Democrats for launching an impeachment investigation focused on Trump’s pressure on Ukraine, but has not commented on the whistleblower report and the loose transcript of the phone call that prompted the probe. Her office had no comment about whether she thought Trump’s statement Thursday was appropriate.
In North Carolina, Sen. Thom Tillis, whom Democrats hope to topple in 2020, also stood by the president. Tillis has said he remains unconvinced that the evidence revealed so far exceeds the threshold necessary for impeachment.
“We’ll see what comes out of their impeachment inquiry. They’re not drawing up articles of impeachment yet,” Tillis told The Associated Press in an interview Monday. “What I’ve said is if they’re basing this entire process on a now public, unredacted transcript and the whistleblower complaint, certainly that doesn’t rise to a level of impeachment, in my opinion.”
Asked about his reaction to the public statements Thursday, Tillis’ office responded with a statement: “Democrats and the mainstream media are using anything and everything to justify impeaching the president and removing him from office.”
At a town hall meeting in western Iowa, Sen. Joni Ernst was asked about Trump’s Ukraine call and request for foreign intervention. “We’re going to move onto another question, but what I would say is we can’t determine that yet,” Ernst said. She said the Senate Intelligence Committee would evaluate it.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office did not respond to a request for comment. Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, chairman of the powerful finance committee, also declined to comment, but his office pointed to the senator’s August request for the Trump administration to investigate Hunter Biden’s business dealings in China.
The office of Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado, widely considered the most vulnerable Republican senator, issued a statement that didn’t reference Trump’s request of China. “The Senate Intelligence Committee is a serious and respected body that is looking into this in a bipartisan fashion,” the statement said.
The offices of several other senators up for reelection next year alongside the president, including Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, also did not respond.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, tweeted, “Once again, @realDonaldTrump has called on a foreign country to interfere in our elections – just the latest example of him putting his personal political gain ahead of defending the integrity of our elections.”
House Democrats are investigating Trump’s July 25 call to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, in which Trump pressed the newly elected leader to look into the Biden family.
Hunter Biden served on the board of a Ukrainian gas company at the same time his father was leading the Obama administration’s diplomatic dealings with Kyiv. Though the timing raised concerns among anti-corruption advocates, there has been no evidence of wrongdoing by either the former vice president or his son.
Notably, the office of Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, who had called reports of Trump’s requests “troubling” last week, referred to that statement in saying he had no additional comment Thursday.
Still, at almost the same time as Trump’s comments, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy called on Pelosi to end the impeachment inquiry, saying it’s unclear whether it would be fair to Trump.
“Anything less than a thorough, transparent and fair process would represent a supreme insult to our Constitution and the millions of Americans who rely on their voices being heard,” he wrote.
Riccardi reported from Denver. Associated Press writers Scott Bauer in Madison, Wis.; Sara Burnett in Chicago; Jonathan J. Cooper in Phoenix; Scott McFetridge in Des Moines, Iowa; Lindsay Whitehurst in Salt Lake City; and Gary D. Robertson in Raleigh, N.C., contributed to this report.
The White House is preparing to formally object to Democrats’ impeachment inquiry as soon as Friday, saying it won’t cooperate with the probe because it was initiated without a vote of the House.
The White House Counsel’s Office was preparing to send a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi objecting to the form of the impeachment investigation, a person familiar with the matter said late Thursday, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the letter before its dissemination.
Pelosi last week announced that the House was beginning the formal inquiry but didn’t seek the consent of the full chamber, as was done for impeachment investigations into former Presidents Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton.
Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal attorney, confirmed that the letter was forthcoming.
Trump allies have suggested for days that without a formal vote, the House is merely conducting standard oversight, entitling lawmakers to a lesser level of disclosure from the administration. The Justice Department raised similar arguments last month, though that was before Pelosi announced the impeachment investigation.
In a letter Thursday to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Pelosi argued, “There is no requirement under the Constitution, under House Rules, or House precedent that the whole House vote before proceeding with an impeachment inquiry.”
There’s no clear-cut procedure in the Constitution for launching an impeachment inquiry, leaving many of these questions about obstruction untested in court, said Allan Lichtman, a history professor at American University.
“There’s no specification in the Constitution in what does and does not constitute a more formal impeachment inquiry or investigation,” he said. “One can argue if they’re in an impeachment investigation, they’re in an impeachment.”
Giuliani dismissed the entire premise of the impeachment inquiry, which is centered on Trump asking Ukraine to investigate his possible political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden.
“The president was not tasking Ukraine to investigate a political opponent,” Giuliani told The Associated Press on Thursday. “He wanted an investigation into a seriously conflicted former vice president of the United States who damaged the reputation of the United States in Ukraine.”
Democrats have sought to use their declared impeachment investigation to bolster their case to access all sorts of documents from the administration, most recently secret grand jury information that underpinned special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 election. They have also threatened to use the administration’s refusal to turn over documents and make witnesses available to potentially form an article of impeachment over “obstruction” of the congressional inquiry.
Where courts have generally required congressional oversight requests to demonstrate a legitimate legislative purpose, impeachment requests could be wide-ranging.
It is unclear if Democrats would wade into a lengthy legal fight with the administration over documents and testimony or if they would just move straight to considering articles of impeachment.
Pelosi has sought to avoid a vote on the impeachment probe for the same reason she resisted, for months, liberal calls to try to remove the president: It would force moderate House Democrats to make a politically risky vote.
The White House, meanwhile, is trying to force the question on Democrats, as it seeks to raise the political cost for their impeachment investigation and to animate the president’s supporters ahead of the 2020 election.
Ensnarled in an impeachment investigation over his request for Ukraine to investigate a chief political rival, President Donald Trump Thursday called on another nation to probe former Vice President Joe Biden: China.
“China should start an investigation into the Bidens,” Trump said in remarks to reporters outside the White House. Trump said he hadn’t directly asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to investigate Biden and his son Hunter but said it’s “certainly something we could start thinking about.”
Trump and personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani have also tried to raise suspicions about Hunter Biden’s business dealings in China, leaning on the writings of conservative author Peter Schweizer. But there is no evidence that the former vice president benefited financially from his son’s business relationships.
Trump’s requests for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to dig up dirt on Biden, as well as Giuliani’s conduct, are at the center of an intelligence community whistleblower complaint that sparked the House Democratic impeachment probe last week.
Trump’s comments came as he publicly acknowledged that his message to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and other officials was to investigate the 2020 Democratic presidential contender. Trump’s accusations of impropriety are unsupported by evidence.
“It’s a very simple answer,” Trump said of his call with Zelenskiy. “They should investigate the Bidens.”
Trump has sought to implicate Biden and his son in the kind of corruption that has long plagued Ukraine. Hunter Biden served on the board of a Ukrainian gas company at the same time his father was leading the Obama administration’s diplomatic dealings with Kyiv. Though the timing raised concerns among anti-corruption advocates, there has been no evidence of wrongdoing by either the former vice president or his son.