President Trump slammed Democrats over their impeachment inquiry against him and suggested he may take his appeal directly to the American people.
The president defended his July 25 telephone conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during an interview with the Washington Examiner and suggested he might read the transcript of the call out loud in a “fireside chat” with America.
“This is over a phone call that is a good call,” Trump told Washington Examiner reporters and editors during the interview in the Oval Office.
“At some point, I’m going to sit down, perhaps as a fireside chat on live television, and I will read the transcript of the call because people have to hear it. When you read it, it’s a straight call,” he added, alluding to the direct radio addresses delivered by President Franklin Roosevelt during the 1930s and 1940s.
Naturally, CNN’s Chris Cuomo and Don Lemon found a way to ridicule the idea.
“Can we please have a fireside chat? I want a fireside chat,” Lemon begged mockingly on Thursday.
“What is the president’s ability to read the whole transcript without pausing to comment?” Cuomo laughed.
“You’re reading my mind. It would be so amazing,” Lemon replied.
Trump indicated during his Washington Examiner interview that, even hours after a divided House voted to endorse the impeachment inquiry and lay out the process for the proceedings, he would not be cooperating with the Democrats and their efforts to remove him from office.
“You are setting a terrible precedent for other presidents,” he said when asked if he would comply with subpoenas and requests for documents by the House committees.
Trump continued to defend himself against the claims of quid pro quo, with Democrats contending that he withheld military aid as he pressed Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter. Witnesses, like National Security Council official, Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who testified this week that he was concerned by the call, have spoken to the House panel.
Trump praised Tim Morrison, who testified Thursday, one day after he stepped down as the National Security Council’s most senior adviser for Russian and European affairs.
“I want to be clear, I was not concerned that anything illegal was discussed,” Morrison said in written comments.
The president told the Examiner Morrison’s opening statement was “fantastic.”
Trump maintained he has done nothing wrong and pointed to actions by three other presidents who faced impeachment.
“Everybody knows I did nothing wrong,” Trump told the Examiner. “Bill Clinton did things wrong; Richard Nixon did things wrong. I won’t go back to [Andrew] Johnson because that was a little before my time. But they did things wrong. I did nothing wrong.”
He also dismissed the need for setting up a war room to deal with the impeachment proceedings, telling the Examiner that “It’s a con job, a sham.”
“I already have good people,” he said, noting that there was no need to set up a special operation that would legitimize the impeachment effort.
“Clinton was different. He was guilty,” he said. “This is a simpler case than his.”
The president maintained that he was in the right and being responsible by reviewing military aid to Ukraine, in light of the country’s well-known corruption.
“We are giving them money, we are giving them weapons,” he said. “We have an obligation to look at corruption.”
Trump also called into question the wisdom of doing what his accusers allege – of engaging in illegal activity while on the phone in the White House with several witnesses.
“I got stenographers and all these other people on the line,” he said. “I am going to make a statement that is illegal or bad? Who would do a thing like that?”