In the letter, which was released by the White House on the eve of his expected impeachment, Trump expressed his “strongest and most powerful protest against the partisan impeachment crusade.”
“You know that I had a totally innocent conversation with the President of Ukraine,” the president wrote, referring to his July 25 conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy — the basis of the House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry that accuses Trump of withholding US$400 million in needed military aid from Ukraine in exchange for information on his political rival, former vice-president Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.
The letter spans six pages and details Trump’s version of the events leading up to the impeachment inquiry. In it, he maintains his innocence, claiming he did nothing wrong by asking a foreign government to investigate his political rival, while smearing former FBI director James Comey as “one of the dirtiest cops our nation has ever seen.”
Trump refers to the impeachment process as a “perversion,” and said that he knows his letter won’t change anything, but that he wrote it for “the purpose of history.”
He also accuses Pelosi of depriving him of his due process and claims more due process was afforded those accused during the Salem Witch trials, which saw the execution of women accused of witchcraft via burning at the stake.
“It is a terrible thing you are doing, but you will have to live with it, not I!” Trump wrote shortly before accusing Pelosi of having “Trump Derangement Syndrome.”
The Democratic-majority House Rules Committee met Tuesday, with lawmakers arguing over the parameters for Wednesday’s debate, the outcome of which is expected to culminate in votes to make Trump the third president to be impeached in American history.
The two articles of impeachment, which accuse Trump of abusing his power and obstructing justice, are likely to be passed through the House before the end of the week, with a lengthy Senate trial anticipated to follow.
“It’s unfortunate that we have to be here today, but the actions of the president of the United States make that necessary,” said Rep. Jim McGovern. “The evidence is as clear as it is overwhelming.”
McGovern said the president “jeopardized our national security and he undermined our democracy,” adding, “every day we let President Trump act like the law doesn’t apply to him, we move a little closer” to rule by dictators.
No Republicans, who have tried to discredit allegations against the president, are expected to vote to impeach Trump.
Rejecting the Democrats’ push for fresh impeachment testimony, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell advised them to “turn back from the cliff” of Wednesday’s expected vote.
“From everything we can tell, House Democrats’ slapdash impeachment inquiry has failed to come anywhere near – anywhere near – the bar for impeaching a duly elected president, let alone removing him for the first time in American history,” he said.
Rep. Tom Cole, the top committee Republican, said the split view among Americans over impeachment should be reason enough not to proceed with the rare action.
“When half of Americans are telling you what you are doing is wrong, you should listen,” he said.
In a 650-page report released on Friday, the House Judiciary Committee said the president “betrayed the Nation by abusing his high office to enlist a foreign power in corrupting democratic elections.”
The report said Trump promoted his lawyer Rudy Giuliani’s investigation of Biden and a now-debunked theory that it was Ukraine — not Russia — that interfered in the 2016 election.
Many Democrats announced they would be voting for impeachment on Tuesday, with less than a handful expected to dissent.
A spokesperson for Democratic Rep. Collin Peterson told the Associated Press he was undecided on how he would vote.
One freshman Democrat, Rep. Jeff Van Drew, said he would vote against impeachment and indicated he was switching parties to become a Republican. Drew reportedly lost at least six staff members Monday after he told them he was switching parties.
Read the full letter here:
— With files from the Associated Press
Editor’s note: This post has been updated to correct information regarding the length of the letter.
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