Trump to ‘strongly consider’ testifying in impeachment probe
Donald Trump has said he would “strongly consider” testifying in the congressional impeachment inquiry after Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic Speaker of the House of Representatives, invited the president to appear before the committees leading the probe.
Ms Pelosi told CBS television on Sunday that Mr Trump could testify before the inquiry, in a response to Republican criticism that Democrats were not giving the president and his team the opportunity to defend themselves in the public phase of the impeachment probe.
“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!” Mr Trump tweeted on Monday.
Mr Trump is facing the biggest crisis of his presidency after a string of current and former officials testified before Congress that the White House withheld $391m in military aid to Ukraine in an effort to pressure President Volodymyr Zelensky to find dirt on former vice-president Joe Biden and the Ukrainian business activities of his son Hunter.
Another tough week awaits the president, with a number of officials, including his ambassador to the EU, Gordon Sondland, set to testify in public. Mr Sondland, a wealthy hotelier and Trump fundraiser, initially testified that there was no quid pro quo related to the Ukraine aid. But he later changed his testimony, providing more evidence against Mr Trump.
Mr Trump opened himself up to more criticism on Friday by lashing out at Marie Yovanovitch, the former US ambassador to Ukraine, as she testified on Capitol Hill. Democrats accused the president of witness intimidation after he attacked her on Twitter.
Mr Trump said everywhere she went “turned bad”, in an attack that Ms Yovanovitch said was “very intimidating”. Adam Schiff, the Democratic head of the House intelligence committee and the main lawmaker leading the inquiry, accused Mr Trump of witness intimidation.
Ms Yovanovitch, who has accused the president of leading a “concerted campaign” to have her removed from her post earlier this year, was the third witness to testify in public. Last week, William Taylor, the acting ambassador to Ukraine, said David Holmes, one of his staff, had overheard Mr Trump pressing Mr Sondland for an investigation into the Bidens.
Later in the week, Mr Holmes told investigators in a closed-door hearing that Mr Sondland had told Mr Trump that the Ukrainian president “loves your ass” and would do “anything you ask him to”, according to a copy of his statement to the lawmakers.
Follow Demetri Sevastopulo on Twitter: @dimi