White House

Trump letter tees off on Pelosi, even as public statements more restrained

President accuses Democrats of offenses he has been accused of

President Donald Trump waves as he departs after giving “Butter” the turkey a pre-Thanksgiving pardon during a ceremony in the Rose Garden of the White House on Nov. 26. (Photo by Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

President Donald Trump on Tuesday shrugged off an expected Wednesday House vote to impeach him, saying he is ready for a Senate trial that all but certainly will acquit him — even as he teed off on Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

“I’m not watching,” Trump said in a pool spray of the ongoing House process, which Tuesday centered on a Rules Committee hearing to set up the floor process under which two articles of impeachment will be considered on the floor Wednesday. “I haven’t seen it. … We look forward to getting onto the Senate.”

But his dismissive tone was much different from that of a roiling six-page letter he sent Pelosi minutes before he appeared before reporters. “By proceeding with your invalid impeachment, you are violating your oaths of office, you are breaking your allegiance to the Constitution, and you are declaring open war on American Democracy,” Trump wrote.

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“You are the ones interfering in America’s elections. You are the ones subverting America’s Democracy. You are the ones Obstructing Justice,” Trump charged. “You are the ones bringing pain and suffering to our Republic for your own selfish, personal, political, and partisan gain.”

That paragraph was vintage Trump. He often takes allegations leveled upon him by his foes and accuses them of those very actions. What’s more, the letter features aspects of the verbiage and grammar the president uses when he tweets and speaks, including exclamation points. Those are rare in official correspondence between chiefs executives and congressional leaders.

“You have cheapened the importance of the very ugly word, impeachment!” he wrote, adding later: “It is a terrible thing you are doing, but you will have to live with it, not I!”

He again called the July 25 call with Ukraine’s new president in which he asked him to “do us a favor” by investigating U.S. Democrats “totally innocent.” Trump also again falsely called a White House-prepared summary of that telephone conversation a “transcript” even though the document includes a disclaimer that it is not a verbatim account of what the two leaders said.

The president repeatedly tells Pelosi that she and other Democrats “know” what he did was legal and ethical, even though they have for months said the exact opposite — even saying flatly he broke multiple federal laws. For instance, in its final impeachment report, the House Judiciary Committee accused the president of committing wire fraud and criminal bribery.

Barbara Perry of the University of Virginia’s Miller Center on Tuesday said Democrats liked erred by not using such language during the House Intelligence and Judiciary committees’ public, televised hearings.

“Those are easy to understand terms. And bribery is right there in the Constitution. People go to jail for those things,” she said. “It was probably a public relations mistake by Democrats. People know what those things mean, be it from police or law shows on television or from school. … Maybe Democrats thought it just wasn’t worth getting into, that they would have to explain to the American people all of the federal statutes and what they entail.”

‘Zero’ concerns

Asked during a meeting with Guatemala's president in the Oval Office if becoming only the third U.S. president to be impeached gives him pause, Trump responded: “No, I don’t take any.”

“Zero, to put it mildly,” the president said after again dubbing the House inquiry “a lie” and “a fraud” and “a hoax” and “a witch hunt.” His comments came a day before he is all but certain to join Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton as impeached U.S. presidents; both were acquitted by the Senate. Richard Nixon was headed for impeachment and removal, but top GOP lawmakers convinced him to instead resign.

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With all House Republicans expected to vote against the abuse of power and obstruction of Congress articles, Trump and his team are focused on Senate Republicans. Several moderate and up-for-reelection GOP senators have yet to signal how they intend to vote during the Senate floor trial next month.

It would take 20 Senate Republicans jumping ship to remove Trump from office and make Vice President Mike Pence the 46th commander in chief. But the president and his surrogates say that’s not going to happen.

“I watched numerous senators last night,” the cable news-obsessed president said. “I think we’re equally well-united. They know it’s a witch hunt.”

Trump, who likes to talk tough, again slammed House Intelligence Chairman Adam B. Schiff for embellishing without a clear disclaimer he was doing so the White House’s summary of the July 25 call. He suggested the California Democrat should somehow be punished, and used the Guatemalan justice system as an example of how he would handle Schiff if he had his druthers.

“In Guatemala,” he said, glancing toward a stoic President Jimmy Morales and suggesting frustration with a U.S. lawmakers’ ability to speak mostly without rebuke, “they handle things much tougher than that.”

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