By Steve Holland and Jeff Mason
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump is mad as hell.
Easily rankled when Democrats accuse him of wrongdoing, Trump boiled over on Wednesday at the impeachment inquiry they are pursuing over his July 25 phone call to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
Democrats want to prove he sought personal political gain by appealing to Zelenskiy to investigate Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden.
Trump sees the impeachment probe as a harassing follow-up to the Russia investigation that failed to knock him out of office and is frustrated that much of the U.S. news media do not cover what he views as Democratic hypocrisy.
From hard-boiled tweets to lashing remarks to reporters in the Oval Office and later in the East Room, Trump’s anger built throughout the day.
“The Do Nothing Democrats should be focussed on building up our Country, not wasting everyone’s time and energy on BULLSHIT, which is what they have been doing ever since I got overwhelmingly elected in 2016,” he said in a tweet.
He was just clearing his throat.
In the Oval Office, Trump called U.S. Representative Adam Schiff, the Democrat whose House Intelligence Committee is leading the probe, “shifty Schiff.”
Trump said Schiff would not be able to carry the jockstrap of U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, calling it a “blank strap” out of deference to his sense of Oval Office decorum.
“All they want to do is try and win the election in 2020, so they come up with this impeachment nonsense!” Trump said of the Democrats.
Democrats have accused Trump of pressuring a vulnerable U.S. ally to meddle in the 2020 election for his own political benefit.
“It’s hard to imagine a more corrupt course of conduct,” Schiff said on Wednesday.
An innocent bystander to the White House events was visiting Finnish President Sauli Niinisto, who hosted Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin for a summit in Helsinki in July 2018.
A Finnish reporter looking to change the subject told Trump that “Finland is the happiest country in the world,” to which the president replied: “Finland is a happy country.”
“Yeah, for sure,” Niinisto agreed amiably.
After the two leaders had a lunch of Dover sole in the Cabinet Room, the stage was set for a joint news conference in the East Room.
It started out evenly. Trump expressed condolences for a stabbing attack in Finland, and Niinisto talked about European security and melting Arctic sea ice.
But when the questions turned to impeachment, Trump’s stormy mood gathered force.
His voice rising with anger, Trump lashed https://reut.rs/2oAAIP0 out at Reuters reporter Jeff Mason, who asked what he had wanted Zelenskiy to do when Trump brought up the business ties to Ukraine of Biden’s son Hunter.
“It’s a whole hoax, and you know who’s playing into the hoax? People like you and the fake news media that we have in this country,” he retorted. He told the reporter not to be “rude” and repeatedly evaded the question.
The news conference was supposed to include two questions from the American side and two from the Finnish side. But after the third questioner, Trump had had enough, ending the event and walking off stage.
(Reporting by Steve Holland and Jeff Mason; Editing by Peter Cooney)