President Donald Trump on Friday essentially dared Democrats in the House to return articles of impeachment against him, saying “I want a trial” regarding claims he abused his office in dealing with the Ukrainian leader.
And he said he wanted to call as his first witness House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), who has been leading an impeachment inquiry.
“Frankly, I want a trial,” Trump said in a lengthy phone interview with Fox News’ “Fox and Friends,” referencing the lineup of witnesses speaking in the public impeachment inquiry this week as “shifty Schiffs.”
However, when asked if he expected to be impeached by the House, he responded, “I don’t expect it. I don’t expect it.”
Several U.S. diplomats and former diplomats post to Europe and Ukraine have testified over the past two weeks that the president sought a “quid pro quo” arrangement with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during a July phone call, which the president denies.
Specifically, they claimed that Trump threatened to withhold lethal military aid from Ukraine unless Zelensky publicly announced an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden.
They also claimed that Trump wanted Zelensky to probe Ukrainian ties to Democrats and the 2016 presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton.
Zelensky has not publicly announced either of those probes. And his received its military aid after a slight delay last summer.
As for the House impeachment inquiry, Trump said there “was no due process. You can’t have lawyers. We couldn’t have any witness. We wanted to call the whistleblower…I want to see Adam Schiff testify about the whistleblower, who is a fake whistleblower.”
He added that he knows “exactly who” the whistleblower is, and “everybody does.”
“The whistleblower, in my opinion, is a political operative, just like his lawyer who is one of the worst people in Washington,” said the president.
But Democrats should “never, ever impeach,” he added.
“There should never be an impeachment,” he said. “This is not an impeachment. That phone call was totally appropriate, OK, totally. But, assuming these people are as sleazy as they are, and (House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi is totally incompetent, she’s lost absolutely, lost, she doesn’t know what she’s doing. She hasn’t done anything. She can’t get anything approved.”
The White House released a rough transcript of the July phone call, which did not show any request for an investigation or threat to withhold aid.
“I released the transcript of the call immediately,” said Trump. “Had I not done that, I would have had a big problem. A big problem because they all lied about my call. My call was perfect. If you heard Adam Schiff’s made-up version of my call, I mean it was the worst thing I ever heard.”