Trump says he will ‘strongly consider’ testifying in impeachment probe

RT: Donald Trump, rally 191114
President Donald Trump delivers remarks during a campaign rally in Bossier City, LA, November 14, 2019.
Tom Brenne | Reuters

President Donald Trump on Monday suggested he would be open to testifying publicly or in writing as part of the House impeachment inquiry.

Trump’s openness to participating in the probe of his efforts to push Ukraine to announce investigations of his opponents came in response to an invitation for him to testify extended by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in an interview on CBS’ “Face The Nation.”

Pelosi, Trump tweeted Monday, “suggested on Sunday’s DEFACE THE NATION that I testify about the phony Impeachment Witch Hunt. She also said I could do it in writing.”

“Even though I did nothing wrong, and don’t like giving credibility to this No Due Process Hoax, I like the idea & will, in order to get Congress focused again, strongly consider it!” Trump wrote.

House Democrats leading the impeachment inquiry have already heard from numerous witnesses behind closed doors. Last week, three of them testified publicly before the House Intelligence Committee.

Eight more witnesses, including multiple current Trump administration officials, are scheduled to appear for public hearings this week.

“If he has information that is exculpatory, that means ex, taking away, culpable, blame, then we look forward to seeing it,” Pelosi said in the interview that aired Sunday.

“If Donald Trump doesn’t agree with what he’s hearing, doesn’t like what he’s hearing, he shouldn’t tweet. He should come to the committee and testify under oath. And he should allow all those around him to come to the committee and testify under oath,” she said.

Investigators in the House, led by Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., have sparred with the Trump administration through their efforts to hear from witnesses.

The administration has directed some officials, including U.S. charges d’affaires to Ukraine Bill Taylor and U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, not to appear for their scheduled depositions. Some of those officials defied the White House and cooperated with congressional subpoenas for their testimony, while others have sided with the administration.

Whether he decides to testify or not, Trump has already been heard from in the impeachment hearings. During Friday’s public hearing, Trump lashed out in a tweet at former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch as she was testifying. Schiff read the tweet aloud.

Yovanovitch was recalled from Ukraine amid efforts by Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani and others to get Ukraine to announce probes into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, as well as a debunked conspiracy theory about alleged Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election.

She said during her hearing that Trump’s tweets about her were “very intimidating.” Schiff said that “some of us here take witness intimidation very, very seriously.”

Trump has previously signaled his willingness to answer questions in an investigation that directly involves him and his presidency: He said in January 2018 that he was willing to be interviewed under oath as part of then-special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe.

But Trump and his allies later fretted about the possibility of putting the president at risk of falling into a “perjury trap” if he sat down for questioning. Mueller, whose final report found instances of possible obstruction of justice by Trump but declined to make a legal conclusion, ultimately opted to drop its efforts for an in-person interview with the president.

Trump did submit written responses to a series of questions sent by Mueller’s team, however. One of those answers recently came under scrutiny in the criminal trial of Roger Stone, the Republican political operative who was convicted on Friday of seven counts, including witness tampering and lying to Congress.

Stone’s trial surrounded his efforts to hide his contacts with WikiLeaks, which during the 2016 presidential election published Democrats’ internal emails that had been stolen by Russian agents.

Rick Gates, a former Trump campaign aide, testified in the trial that he recalled a July 2016 phone call between Stone and Trump, after which Trump said that “more information” from WikiLeaks would be coming. But Trump told Mueller in his written responses that “I do not recall discussing WikiLeaks with him, nor do I recall being aware of Mr. Stone having discussed WikiLeaks with individuals associated with my campaign.”

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