Trump slams impeachment hearings as ‘joke’ around the world
President Trump said defiantly Friday that the impeachment hearings have become “a joke all over the world” and that he has a right to free speech about proceedings where Democrats are taking away Republicans’ rights to be heard.
“I think it’s considered a joke all over Washington and all over the world,” Mr. Trump told reporters at the White House. “The Republicans are given no due process whatsoever. We’re not allowed to do anything.”
Mr. Trump was asked if he was trying to tamper with witness Marie Yovanovitch, former ambassador to Ukraine, by tweeting during her impeachment testimony Friday that things “turned bad” everywhere she served.
“I’ll tell you about what tampering is — tampering is when a guy like ‘shifty Schiff’ doesn’t let us have lawyers,” Mr. Trump said of House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff. “Tampering is when Schiff doesn’t let us have witnesses, doesn’t let us speak.”
Asked again he was trying to intimidate Ms. Yovanovitch, the president countered, “I just want to have a total freedom of speech.”
“The Republicans have been treated very badly, and I watched a little bit of it today,” the president said. “I thought it was a disgrace. When we have great Republican representatives, people elected by the people, and they’re not allowed to even ask a question, they’re not allowed to make a statement. We’re not allowed to have witnesses. We’re not allowed to have legal counsel, White House counsel. It’s a disgrace and it’s an embarrassment to our nation.”
The president also rejected Mr. Schiff’s accusation that Mr. Trump had engaged in witness intimidation “in real time,” saying the hearings are not a court case.
“It’s a political process, it’s not a legal process,” Mr. Trump said. “I’m allowed to speak up, if somebody says [something] about me. We’re not allowed to have any kind of representation. We’re not allowed to have almost anything. Nobody’s seen anything like it in the history of our country. So you know what, I have the right to speak, I have freedom of speech, just as other people do.”
He objected to the rules in which the top Republican on the committee, Rep. Devin Nunes of California, wasn’t allowed by Mr. Schiff to grant some of his time for questions to Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York.
“They’ve taken away the Republicans’ rights,” the president said. “I watched today as certain very talented people wanted to ask questions, and they weren’t even allowed to ask questions. Republicans, they weren’t allowed to ask questions, it’s a very sad thing.”
Asked if he believes he will be impeached, Mr. Trump replied, “Well, I shouldn’t be.”
He pointed to statements by the foreign minister and president of Ukraine Thursday night saying there had been no linkage between U.S. military aid and Mr. Trump’s request for investigations of Democratic candidate Joseph R. Biden and U.S. election interference.
“I thought last night it ended,” he said of the impeachment case. “The foreign minister and president of the Ukraine and Ukraine, they came out loud and clear that there was no linkage whatsoever — not even a little bit. I said, ‘Oh, well that ends the impeachment.’ And you people don’t even report it.”