WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump said Friday he is more than willing to undergo a trial if House Democrats vote to impeach him.
"I want a trial," Trump said during a bombastic "Fox and Friends" interview in which he attacked the ongoing impeachment inquiry and claimed his political opponents have always been out to get him.
"The hatred is incredible," he said at one point.
Trump spoke a day after some of his aides met with a group of Senate Republicans to start discussing the logistics of an impeachment trial that would be required if the House votes to impeach him.
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During a phone interview with Fox that lasted more than 50 minutes, Trump said "they should never ever impeach," but indicated that House Democrats may do it after what he called an unfair process.
Trump said he would want to see trial testimony from Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee has conducted five days of impeachment hearings, and the whistleblower whose complaint launched the investigation.
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Both of Trump's desired trial developments are unlikely; Schiff would probably be a prosecutor in an impeachment trial, while the identity of the whistleblower is protected by federal law.
Trump also predicted victory in the Republican-run Senate, telling Fox that his party "has never been more unified."
Democrats said they have made the case that Trump sought to pressure Ukraine into investigating U.S. political opponent Joe Biden by threatening to withhold military aid from the country.
Testimony "confirmed how Trump conditioned official White House acts on Ukraine's willingness to announce politically beneficial investigations," Schiff tweeted Thursday.
In another tweet, Biden wrote that "it’s clear that Donald Trump has abused the power of the presidency. Full stop. He is the most corrupt president in modern American history."
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During the marathon interview on "Fox & Friends," Trump also:
– Dismissed rumors that he may replace Vice President Mike Pence with former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley as his running mate in the 2020 election.
"He's my guy, he's my friend," Trump said of Pence, adding that Haley would likely serve in some other capacity in the years ahead.
– Suggested Secretary of State Mike Pompeo might want to leave the administration and run for a Senate seat in Kansas if he felt like another Republican might lose that race.
"He'd win easily in Kansas," Trump said of Pompeo.
– Said he is in good health, and that Saturday's unexpected visit to a hospital involved his annual physical.
– Threatened to veto a bill denouncing the crackdown on pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, saying it could hurt ongoing trade talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
"Look, we have to stand with Hong Kong, but I'm also standing with President Xi," Trump said. "He's a friend of mine. He's an incredible guy."
Trump also spent most of the interview trashing the impeachment investigation that imperils his presidency.
At one point, he told Fox he got rid of Ukraine ambassador Marie Yovanovitch because "she wouldn't hang my picture in the embassy." Trump accused another witness of making up testimony about overhearing a telephone conversation between him and his ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland.
Trump also spent time hyping an upcoming report on the origins of the FBI investigation into certain Trump advisers and Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.
Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz is expected to allege in a voluminous report, set for release Dec. 9, that a former FBI lawyer altered a document related to the surveillance of a Trump campaign aide, according to a people familiar with the matter.
Trump seized on the disclosure, first reported by CNN.
Claiming, "They (federal investigators) were spying on my campaign," Trump said, "We're dealing at the highest levels of government."
The FBI and the inspector general's office declined to comment.
Trump and Republican allies have long accused the bureau of abusing its surveillance authority during its investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Horowitz has examined whether the FBI violated the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, when it sought a judge’s permission to wiretap former Trump campaign aide Carter Page.
Republicans have complained that the FBI, in its applications to seek and renew surveillance on Page, concealed its reliance on Steele's findings. Trump has claimed the Russia inquiry was a "hoax" driven by his political rivals, the FBI and the intelligence community.
Attorney General William Barr has been overseeing a parallel investigation into the origins of the Russia probe. That criminal investigation is led by Connecticut U.S. Attorney John Durham, who has conducted high-profile special investigations of the FBI.
The Justice Department declined to comment Friday on the status of that inquiry.
Contributing: Kevin Johnson and Kristine Phillips
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trump tells Fox and Friends he wants a Senate trial if House impeaches