In a Rose Garden appearance Wednesday, President Trump warned Democrats not to pursue impeachment proceedings against him.
“There’s a danger here,” said Trump. “If someday a Democrat becomes president and you have a Republican House, they can impeach him for any reason, or her. Any reason. We can’t allow that to happen. We can’t allow it to happen.”
Trump was responding to a growing push from House Democrats to begin an impeachment inquiry into his administration after numerous executive branch officials, including former White House counsel Don McGahn and Attorney General William Barr, have declined to testify. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has attempted to tamp down her caucus’s push for impeachment hearings, citing the ongoing investigations.
But earlier in the day she charged that the White House was engaged in a “cover-up.”
“We believe no one is above the law, including the president of the United States,” said Pelosi, adding that committees would continue to fight Trump “to get the truth and facts for the American people.”
Trump’s warning that a Republican Congress could impeach a future Democratic president “for any reason” has some basis in history. The last president to face impeachment was a Democrat, Bill Clinton, who was charged with lying about a sexual encounter with a White House intern.
Trump said he walked into a White House meeting with congressional Democrats that was supposed to be about infrastructure funding and informed Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer that he wanted to “do infrastructure” but not while he’s facing congressional investigations.
Trump, who declined to be interviewed for special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe, insisted he cooperated fully with the investigation nevertheless.
“I don’t do cover-ups. You people know that probably better than anybody,” said Trump, addressing reporters.
Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal attorney — currently serving a three-year prison sentence — has said he made a payoff to actress Stormy Daniels, at Trump’s direction, to cover up what she said was a sexual encounter with the president.
Trump decried the cost of the Mueller investigation, which a large sign at the podium put at “$35+ Million.” By other calculations, the investigation actually represented a net profit for the Treasury, factoring in the forfeit of assets by former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
After Trump’s Rose Garden comments, Pelosi spoke to reporters and denounced the president for his refusal to work with Congress on an infrastructure bill, adding, “In any event, I pray for the president of the United States, and I pray for the United States of America.”
While most of the Republican Party has closed ranks around Trump, Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., came out in support of impeachment proceedings over the weekend. Amash, a libertarian who came to Congress in the Tea Party wave of 2010, said there was enough evidence in the special counsel’s report to begin a congressional investigation of the president. Trump replied by calling the five-term representative a “loser” and “total lightweight.”
Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, D-Pa., vice chair of the House Judiciary Committee, said in a statement Monday that "the time has come to start an impeachment inquiry."
“Congress has patiently tried to work within traditional means to get to the bottom of this extraordinary situation," Scanlon said. "But we have reached an inflection point."
Freshmen Democrats have been pushing for impeachment since beginning their tenure. Shortly after being sworn in in January, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., said, “We’re going to impeach the motherf***er.” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., told Yahoo News in April that she was in favor of the process.
“It is just as politicized a maneuver to not impeach in the face of overwhelming evidence as it is to impeach w/o cause,” wrote Ocasio-Cortez on Twitter Tuesday. “Congress swore an oath to uphold the Constitution. That includes impeachment. We have a duty to preserve our institutions + uphold the rule of law.”
An article of impeachment being passed by the House would not end Trump’s presidency but would lead to a trial in the Republican-controlled Senate and a vote on whether to remove the president from office.
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