President Donald Trump lashed again Tuesday at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and other Democrats involved in his impeachment after a teleconference in which he exchanged holiday greetings with members of the military stationed around the globe from his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.
“She hates the Republican Party,” Trump said of Pelosi, predicting that she would lose her speakership. “She hates all of the people who voted for me and the Republican Party. . . . She’s doing a tremendous disservice to the country.”
Speaking to reporters who had just witnessed his teleconference, Trump aired an array of grievances about the impeachment process, claiming that Democrats “had no evidence at all” about misconduct in his dealings with Ukraine and that he is “in a very good position” as he faces a trial in the Senate.
His comments come amid a standoff regarding the timing and scope of a Senate trial. Pelosi has declined to send the two articles of impeachment – abuse of power and obstruction of Congress – to the Senate yet as Democrats demand more information about the parameters of a trial.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has requested subpoenas for several witnesses and documents that were not part of the House impeachment inquiry because of stonewalling by the White House.
“Now they come to the Senate and they want everything,” Trump said, repeating claims that he did not receive “due process” in the House proceedings.
Trump was invited to participate in the Judiciary Committee hearings that preceded his impeachment but refused to do so. He was impeached for obstruction of Congress after blocking several witnesses from his administration from providing documents and testimony sought by House Democrats.
At the heart of the Democrats’ abuse-of-power case is the allegation that Trump tried to leverage a White House meeting and military aid, sought by Ukraine to combat Russian military aggression, to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to launch an investigation of former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden, as well as a probe of an unfounded theory that Kyiv conspired with Democrats to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.
Trump also again took aim Tuesday at House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., a key player in gathering evidence, calling him “a sick, corrupt politician.”
“Fortunately we have a president who was able to plow through all of the stuff that went on and that goes on,” Trump said.
Trump’s comments to reporters echoed complaints made about the impeachment process in a series of morning tweets.
“The Radical Left, Do Nothing Democrats have gone CRAZY,” Trump said in one of them. “They want to make it as hard as possible for me to properly run our Country!”
Democrats responded to Trump’s attacks by noting how they were out of sync with the holiday spirit.
“It’s Christmas Eve. Get. A. Life,” Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., tweeted to Trump in response to the president’s claim that Pelosi “knows nothing” about the trade agreement with Mexico and Canada that was recently passed by the House.
Around the same time Tuesday, Trump’s campaign launched a new website aimed at helping Trump supporters win arguments with their relatives during the holidays. The site, snowflakevictory.com, includes videos of Trump campaign officials coaching Trump supporters on how to argue with “liberal snowflakes” about several issues, including impeachment.
“Impeaching President Trump has always been an election tactic,” campaign adviser Mercedes Schlapp said in one of the videos. “Democrats have never accepted the results of the last election, so they’re trying to interfere with the next one.”
During his remarks, Trump also responded to reports that North Korea’s Kim Jong Un could deliver a Christmas surprise to the United States with some kind of missile test.
“Everybody’s got surprises for me. . . . I handle them as they come along,” Trump said. “Maybe it’s a nice present. Maybe it’s a present where he sends me a beautiful vase as opposed to a missile test, right? I may get a vase. I may get a nice present from him.”
During his phone call with representatives from the military, Trump repeatedly stated that he had rebuilt the armed forces, and asked service members on the other end of the line to confirm that they had seen a marked improvement in equipment and resources since his election.
“You feel a lot different than you did three years ago, Frank?” Trump asked Cmdr. Frank Azzarello aboard the destroyer USS Forrest Sherman in the Gulf of Aden.
“Yes sir,” Azzarello replied.
Asked whether he would offer a pardon for his longtime confidant Roger Stone, Trump said he hadn’t considered it – before asserting that the felon was “a nice guy” who had been mistreated by prosecutors.
“You know, Roger Stone was not involved in my campaign in any way,” Trump said. “Other than the very, very beginning. Before I think I – long before I announced. A little bit.”
In fact, Stone was in direct contact with high-ranking officials in Trump’s campaign throughout much of 2016, including during a period in which he claimed to have insider information about Democratic computer files hacked by Russia and made public by the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks. Trump deputy campaign chairman Rick Gates testified during Stone’s trial that he overheard a phone call in which Trump seemed to discuss WikiLeaks with Stone.
Stone was convicted last month of tampering with a witness and lying to Congress about his efforts to learn of hacked Democratic emails during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. He faces up to 50 years in prison on seven felony counts.
While distancing himself from Stone, Trump used his conviction to make the case that the Justice Department had been biased against the president and his associates.
“We had dirty cops, we had people spying on my campaign,” Trump said, echoing debunked claims about politically biased wiretapping during the 2016 election. “They did terrible things, the likes of which had never been done before in our country.”
As he prepared to depart for his golf club, Trump added: “Have a good time everybody. Merry Christmas.”
(c) 2019, The Washington Post · Toluse Olorunnipa, John Wagner