Trump denounces articles of impeachment as 'very weak' as Democrats push ahead with proceedings

Courtney Subramanian and David Jackson, USA TODAY

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump dismissed the articles of impeachment leveled against him by House Democrats Tuesday as "very weak," repeating earlier claims that he had done nothing wrong in his dealings with Ukraine.

Before traveling to Hershey, Penn., for a campaign rally Tuesday night, Trump told reporters the "silver lining" in ongoing impeachment proceedings was the bipartisan deal he struck with House Democrats on a new trade agreement with Canada and Mexico.

Trump said he believed Democrats felt compelled to reach the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, announced just an hour after the impeachment charges, out of "embarrassment."

In social media, television interviews and public statements, Trump and his aides denounced the impeachment charges as baseless and politically motivated and claimed he would be vindicated in a Senate trial.

House Democrats unveiled two articles of impeachment on Tuesday, accusing Trump of abusing his power by withholding military aid from Ukraine while he sought to pressure its leader into investigating his domestic political rival Joe Biden. The other was related to obstruction of Congress for refusing to cooperate with the inquiry. 

What's next?: The 2 articles of impeachment against President Trump explained – and what happens next

In a string of tweets a little less than an hour after the announcement, Trump denied the charges and attacked Democratic impeachment leaders by name, including committee chairmen Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., and Adam Schiff, D-Calif.

"Shifty Schiff, a totally corrupt politician, made up a horrible and fraudulent statement, read it to Congress, and said those words came from me," Trump tweeted. "He got caught, was very embarrassed, yet nothing happened to him for committing this fraud."

Trump added: "He’ll eventually have to answer for this!"

President Donald Trump listens as Miriam Adelson, the wife of Las Vegas Sands Corporation Chief Executive and Republican mega donor Sheldon Adelson, introduces him at the Israeli American Council National Summit in Hollywood, Fla., Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) ORG XMIT: OTK

In a lengthy written statement, White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said Democrats have always wanted to impeach the president, and he looks forward to the Senate trial.

"The President will address these false charges in the Senate and expects to be fully exonerated, because he did nothing wrong," she said.

Like many officials, White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said Trump is looking forward to the Senate trial - including the possibility that the president would testify on his own behalf.

Gidley said questions about who might testify "will have to be determined later."

MoreA diagram of events in the impeachment inquiry of President Trump

The Trump administration defied subpoenas and testimony during the House inquiry, which is now the subject of the second article of impeachment, and the president only answered written questions during former special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation

The White House will also have to decide whether it will allow testimony from other officials like acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney.

Standing in the rain, covered by an umbrella, Gidley echoed White House talking points: The president has done nothing wrong, the Democrats have always wanted to impeach no matter what, and the House Democrats are pursuing impeachment at the expense of addressing the nation's needs.

As for the trial, Gidley said: "The president wants this sooner rather than later, because, again, he has done nothing wrong."

The articles of impeachment came the same day House Democrats reached a deal with the president over his renegotiated trade agreement with Mexico and Canada to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), delivering Trump a bipartisan policy victory.  

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trump denounces articles of impeachment as Democrats announce charges