President Donald Trump holds a press conference on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly on September 25, 2019 in New York City. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced yesterday that the House will launch a formal impeachment inquiry into President Trump. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Trump slams Democrats for initiating impeachment inquiry "hoax" during United Nations week

"The Democrats did this hoax during the United Nations week. It was perfect," Trump jeered


Shira Tarlo
September 25, 2019 9:49PM (UTC)

President Donald Trump assailed House Democrats for announcing an impeachment inquiry against him during the week of the United Nations General Assembly as he was meeting with foreign leaders.

"The Democrats did this hoax during the United Nations week. It was perfect," Trump scoffed during a news conference in New York after spending the day at the United Nations General Assembly.

Advertisement:

"Because this way it takes away from the tremendous achievements that we're taking care of doing that we're involved in," he continued. "In New York City, at the United Nations."

The news conference was Trump's first since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., announced Tuesday that she has directed the House of Representatives to begin an official impeachment inquiry against Trump.

Though Pelosi had resisted calls to press ahead with impeachment for months, she gave her caucus the green light after Trump admitted he discussed former Vice President Joe Biden during a July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Earlier on Wednesday, the White House released a memo of the phone call between Trump and Zelensky in an effort to squash impeachment talk. The rough transcript of the call revealed Trump urged Zelensky to contact his attorney general, William Barr, to discuss launching a potential corruption investigation into Biden.

"There's a lot of talk about Biden's son — that Biden stopped the prosecution — and a lot of people want to find out about that. So whatever you can do with the attorney general would be great," Trump told Zelensky. "Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution, so if you can look into it . . . It sounds horrible to me."

Those statements and others made by Trump in the mid-July call are at the center of accusations that the president pressured Zelensky to dig up dirt on his political rival in order to boost his own 2020 re-election campaign.

Advertisement:

The July 25 call between Trump and Zelensky has come under mounting scrutiny since it was reported last week that it is at least partly related to a whistleblower complaint that has been withheld from Congress.

Speaking in New York on Wednesday, Trump denied he tried to pressure Zelensky and said he has told House Republicans that he fully supports "transparency" in regards to the whistleblower complaint made against him.

Advertisement:

"I've informed them, all the House members, that I fully support transparency on the whistleblower information," he said. "The so-called whistleblower, the one that didn't have any first-class or first-rate or second-tier information from what I understand. You'll have to figure that out yourself."

The contents of the complaint have remained a secret, though federal law requires complaints to be forwarded to the intelligence committees in Congress.

The House Intelligence Committee is expected to review the whistleblower complaint Wednesday afternoon behind closed doors. It remains unclear if the complaint will have redactions.

Advertisement:

Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire has refused to turn over the complaint, even though Intelligence Inspector General Michael Atkinson deemed the matter an "urgent concern." Under such circumstances, federal law requires the complaint to be transmitted to congressional intelligence committees within seven days.

Maguire is set to testify publicly Thursday before the House Intelligence Committee.

In the wake of reports that he threatened to resign if the White House sought to prevent him from testifying freely before Congress, Maguire said in a statement Wednesday: "At no time have I considered resigning my position since assuming this role on Aug. 16, 2019. I have never quit anything in my life, and I am not going to start now. I am committed to leading the IC to address the diverse and complex threats facing our nation."

Advertisement:

Shira Tarlo

Contact Shira Tarlo at shira.tarlo@salon.com. Follow @shiratarlo.

MORE FROM Shira TarloFOLLOW @shiratarlo



Fearless journalism
in your inbox every day

Sign up for our free newsletter

• • •