Trump brags that he is withholding “all the material” while fighting obstruction of Congress charge

“Honestly, we have all the material. They don’t have the material,” Trump said in Davos

By Igor Derysh

Managing Editor

Published January 22, 2020 6:37PM (EST)

President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at Kellogg Arena, Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019, in Battle Creek, Mich. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at Kellogg Arena, Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019, in Battle Creek, Mich. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

President Donald Trump bragged that he was withholding evidence from his Senate impeachment trial at his legal team attempts to dispute the obstruction of Congress charge among the articles of impeachment brought by the House of Representatives.

"Honestly, we have all the material. They don't have the material," Trump told reporters during a news conference in Davos, Switzerland, where he is attending the World Economic Forum. "When we released that conversation, all hell broke out with the Democrats. Because they say, 'Wait, a minute, this is much different than Shifty Schiff told us.' So we're doing very well. I got to watch enough. I thought our team did a very good job."

While Trump believes his lawyers did a good job, White House counsel Pat Cipollone came under criticism after making numerous false claims while leading the president's defense.

Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., one of the House impeachment managers, said that Trump's comment amounted to a confession to one of the articles of impeachment against him.

"The second article of impeachment was for obstruction of Congress: covering up witnesses and documents from the American people," she tweeted. "This morning the President not only confessed to it, he bragged about it."

Head impeachment manager Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., also hit out at Trump over the remark.

"The president… bragged that he thought things were going well because he had all the materials," he told reporters. "Well, indeed they do have the material — hidden from the American people. That is nothing to brag about."

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., introduced 11 amendments Tuesday seeking to introduce documents and witnesses into the trial, but each was rejected mostly down party lines.

Trump on Wednesday also said he would block witnesses sought by Democrats from testifying if the Senate votes to allow witnesses during the trial even as he insisted that he personally had no objection to them testifying.

"I would rather interview Bolton. I would rather interview a lot of people," Trump said. "The problem with John is that it's a national security problem. John, he knows some of my thoughts. He knows what I think about leaders."

"What happens if he reveals what I think about a certain leader, and it's not very positive? And then I have to deal on behalf of the country?" he asked. "It's going to be very hard. It's going to make the job very hard. When he knows my thoughts on certain people and other governments — and we're talking about massive trade deals, and war and peace and all these different things that we talk about — that's really a very important national security problem."

Bolton, who clashed with Trump during his time as national security adviser, said he would testify if subpoenaed by the Senate.

Trump acknowledged that Bolton did not leave the White House on good terms.

"I don't know if we left on the best of terms. I would say probably not," Trump said. "You don't like people testifying when they didn't leave on good terms — and that was due to me, not due to him."

Trump said he may try to block Bolton from testifying if he is subpoenaed.

"You could call it presidential prerogative, you could just call it the way I look at it — national security, for national security reasons, executive privilege, they say," he said. "John would certainly fit into that."

Impeachment manager Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., slammed the administration's — and Senate Republicans' — repeated attempts to block Bolton from testifying on the first day of the trial.

"The president and some members of this body are afraid to hear from Ambassador Bolton, because they know he knows too much," Nadler said. "The president does not what you to hear from Ambassador Bolton, because he does not want the American people to hear firsthand testimony about the misconduct at the heart of this trial. The question is if the Senate will be complicit in the president's crimes by covering them up."

By Igor Derysh

Igor Derysh is Salon's managing editor. His work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Herald and Baltimore Sun.

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Clip Donald Trump Jerry Nadler John Bolton Politics Trump Impeachment