Trump says he see political benefit in dragging out impeachment trial

Image: Donald Trump
Donald Trump listens to his introduction during a Hanukkah Reception in the East Room of the White House on Dec. 11, 2019. Copyright Mark Wilson Getty Images
By Shannon Pettypiece and Adam Edelman and Mitch Felan with NBC News Politics
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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been pushing for a shorter trial with limited witnesses.


WASHINGTON — Shortly after the House Judiciary Committee voted to impeach President Donald Trump, the president accused Democrats of "trivializing impeachment" — and said that he would like to see the impeachment process dragged out longer

"It's a very sad thing for our country, but it seems to be very good for me politically," Trump told reporters at the White House before a meeting with the president of Paraguay. He claimed "the polls have gone through the roof for Trump ... especially with independent voters, and especially in swing states. I could show you numbers that nobody has ever seen numbers like this before."

It was unclear what polls Trump is referring to, but in Monmouth University poll released Wednesday, 45 percent of Americans said Trump should be impeached and removed from office while 50 percent disagreed — little changed since news of the Ukraine controversy broke. In the key swing state of Wisconsin, 40 percent of voters said Trump should be impeached and removed from office, versus 52 percent who disagree, according to a Marquette Law poll released Thursday.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been pushing for a shorter trial with limited witnesses, and many Republican members questioning the wisdom of having President Donald Trump call witnesses and are instead discussing a speedy resolution. But Trump said he might prefer a longer process where he calls the whistleblower to testify.

"I'll do long or short. I've heard Mitch, I've heard Lindsey [Graham], I think they are very much in agreement on some concept," Trump said. "I'll do whatever they want to do. It doesn't matter. I wouldn't mind the long process, because I'd like to see the whistleblower, who's a fraud, having the whistleblower called to testify in the Senate trial."

But the weight of impeachment appeared to still be weighing on him. He said he watched "quite a bit" of the proceedings yesterday, calling the members of the media reporting on the Ukraine controversy "bad people, sick people." He said Democrats are "making fools of themselves," and warned of payback.

"It's a scam, it's something that shouldn't be allowed, and it's a very bad thing for our country, and you're trivializing impeachment," Trump said. "And I'll tell you what. Someday, there'll be a Democrat president, and there'll be a Republican House, and I suspect they're gonna remember it."

Trump has been increasingly taking his rebuttal to Twitter. After sending out a record number of tweets on Thursday, his tweetstorm continued on Friday morning with praise for the Republican "warriors" who defended him in the House Judiciary Committeemeetings, and criticism of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

"The Republicans House members were fantastic yesterday. It always helps to have a much better case, in fact the Dems have no case at all, but the unity & sheer brilliance of these Republican warriors, all of them, was a beautiful sight to see. Dems had no answers and wanted out!" Trump tweeted.

The tweet was the first of seven posts (as of 8:30 a.m.) he had so far written since 6:00 a.m. Friday morning.

Just a day earlier, Trump tweeted or retweeted more than 115 times — most of them centered on impeachment. The president has been even more prolific than usual on Twitter in recent days: On Sunday, he tweeted and retweeted 105 times.

The president went on to tweet Friday a boast about his poll numbers, called the impeachment case against him a "total hoax" and claimed that Pelosi had "admitted yesterday that she began this scam 2 1/2 years ago!"

At the White House later, he said the impeachment effort had "started a long time ago, probably before I came down the escalator with the future First Lady" to announce his presidential run in 2015.

The claims were based on a mischaracterization of comments Pelosi made about impeachment earlier this week.

At an event Tuesday afternoon at Politico's "Women Rule" summit, Pelosi was asked to react to the criticism that Democrats are racing through their impeachment inquiry of the president. "It's been going on for 22 months, two-and-a-half years actually," Pelosi said initially. She then made clear she was referring to the Mueller investigation.

Trump also tweeted criticism Friday of CNN and MSNBC, and praise for Fox News Channel.

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