President Donald Trump accused the House Democrats leading the impeachment inquiry against him of being "vicious" in a wide-ranging interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity, while simultaneously claiming that Republicans "would never do a thing like this."
Republicans could have impeached former President Barack Obama "for many things," but "they never even thought of impeaching him," according to Trump.
"I've gone through the impeachment now since the beginning on Russia, on Mueller, on all this stuff. OK? And then they come up with this crazy concept of a perfect conversation," Trump continued, referring to his controversial July 25 phone conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, which prompted Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to launch a formal impeachment inquiry.
At the center of the scandal are allegations that Trump withheld nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine in an effort to pressure Zelensky into digging up dirt on one of his key rivals heading into the 2020 presidential elections.
Trump also implored the foreign leader to "find out what happened" with the Democratic National Committee's computer server that was hacked by Russians during the 2016 presidential campaign, according to a summary of the call released by the White House.
Trump has repeatedly questioned and attacked the U.S. intelligence community's findings that Russians hacked and disseminated emails from the DNC and his 2016 rival Hillary Clinton in order to help him clinch the presidency. Despite former special counsel Robert Mueller's exhaustive report on the issue, Trump's Department of Justice is currently probing the origins of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
"I heard Clinton was involved. I heard they got somebody who wrote the fake dossier," Trump claimed to Hannity on Monday, citing an unsubstantiated conspiracy theory. "Was it out of Ukraine? All of the things that happened . . . I would like the attorney general to find out what’s going on. Because you know what? We’re investigating corruption."
The president also took a swipe at Clinton for accusing former Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein and current presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, of being Russian assets.
"Now, I don't know Jill Stein. I know her as an environmentalist. OK? And probably a good woman. The last thing she is is a Russian asset. I don't know Tulsi Gabbard, but know one thing: She's not an asset of Russia," Trump said, adding that Clinton and her inner circle were "sick. There's something wrong with them."
House Democrats are also probing another request which the president made on that now-infamous call: that Ukraine investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, who served on the board of a Ukrainian energy company that came under scrutiny for possible abuse of power and unlawful enrichment. There is no evidence of wrongdoing by either Biden.
Democrats have alleged that Trump abused his office for personal and political gain. They claim that the president violated his oath of office by allegedly soliciting foreign interference in the 2020 presidential election, an allegation which was first detailed in the whistleblower complaint released last month that blew open the scandal.
Trump has repeatedly insisted there was no "quid pro quo" in his exchanges with Zelensky even though the White House has issued conflicting messages on the topic. But acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney undercut the president last Thursday when he acknowledged that Trump had withheld millions in military aid to Ukraine in an attempt to pressure the country to launch an investigation that could benefit him politically.
During his conversation with Hannity, Trump singled out CNN's Anderson Cooper, accusing the news anchor of giving Biden a pass when asking about his son's business dealings in Ukraine during last week's Democratic presidential debate.
"I watch this 'Crazy Anderson Cooper' during the debate apologize for having to ask the question," Trump claimed to Hannity. He claimed that if one of his sons faced similar accusations, then it "would be the biggest story of the story."
Cooper has come under scrutiny from some prominent Republicans over his question to the former vice president about his son's dealings with Ukraine. Referring to the scandal, Cooper noted that Trump had "falsely accused" Hunter Biden of impropriety even though neither father or son engaged in "wrongdoing."
Trump, who regularly criticizes the media for "unfair" coverage of his administration, broadly described the press as "corrupt" to Hannity and suggested that he may no longer allow copies of the New York Times and the Washington Post in the White House.
"The New York Times, which is a fake newspaper — we don't even want it in the White House anymore," Trump told Hannity. "We're probably going to terminate that and the Washington Post. They're fake."
You can watch Hannity's full interview with Trump below: