President Trump blasted Democrats on Monday for launching the next phase in their impeachment inquiry just as he was scheduled to be overseas at a NATO meeting.
The president made the remarks as he left Washington for London on the scheduled trip -- one that created an obvious scheduling conflict when House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., invited Trump to participate in his committee's first impeachment hearing on Wednesday. The president has declined the offer, and suggested Monday that Democrats were well aware of the timing.
"So the Democrats, the radical left Democrats, the do-nothing Democrats decided when I’m going to NATO, which was set up a year ago, that when I’m going to NATO that was the exact time," Trump said, noting that his NATO trip is "one of the most important journeys" of his.
Trump said that the impeachment efforts are "a hoax to start off with," and pointed to a new interview with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that he claims supports his case. Trump is accused of pressuring Zelensky into investigating Democratic activities during the 2016 election as well as former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter, allegedly withholding military aid to Ukraine as leverage.
Trump and Zelensky have both insisted that no pressure was applied. In the recent interview, Zelensky criticized Trump's decision to delay the aid but again stated that no quid pro quo was discussed between them.
"The Ukrainian president came out and said very strongly that President Trump did absolutely nothing wrong. That should be case over," Trump said, before adding, "But it will never end it because they want to do what they want to do."
Trump noted that Republicans have united behind him during the impeachment inquiry, and predicted that ultimately "it's going to be a tremendous boon" for the GOP, despite saying that "in other ways, it's a disgrace."
Nadler did give Trump the option of sending counsel to represent him at Wednesday's hearing, but Trump told reporters he would not do so "because the whole thing is a hoax, everybody knows it."
In a Sunday letter, White House counsel Pat Cipollone also accused Nadler of strategically timing Wednesday's hearing for when Trump is away.
"You scheduled this hearing---no doubt purposely---during the time that you know the President will be out of the country attending the NATO Leaders Meeting in London," Cipollone wrote.
"As for the hearing scheduled for December 4, we cannot fairly be expected to participate in a hearing while the witnesses are yet to be named and while it remains unclear whether the Judiciary Committee will afford the president a fair process through additional hearings," Cipollone continued. "More importantly, an invitation to an academic discussion with law professors does not begin to provide the President with any semblance of a fair process. Accordingly, under the current circumstances, we do not intend to participate in your Wednesday hearing."
Nadler on Monday called the response "unfortunate."
"The American people deserve transparency. If the President thinks the call was 'perfect' and there is nothing to hide then he would turn over the thousands of pages of documents requested by Congress, allow witnesses to testify instead of blocking testimony with baseless privilege claims, and provide any exculpatory information that refutes the overwhelming evidence of his abuse of power," he said in a statement.