WASHINGTON – While the political focus was on the opening day of the public phase of the impeachment inquiry, the politician with the most at stake says he tuned out the television.
Of course, President Donald Trump tweeted more than a dozen times and conducted three media availabilities, blasting Democratic opponents and the impeachment process in general.
"I haven’t watched it, I haven’t watched for one minute," Trump said during a brief news conference in the East Room with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. "This is a sham, and shouldn’t be allowed."
While claiming he did not watch the hearing, Trump also said during one of two Oval Office meetings with reporters covering the Erdogan visit: "I see they’re using lawyers that are television lawyers, they took some guys off television."
He appeared to be referring to Daniel Goldman, the Democrats' lead impeachment hearing lawyer. Goldman served as an assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York for a decade before he left his post in 2017 to become a television legal analyst.
Though the White House said the president was not watching, he earlier retweeted more than a dozen posts that included videos from the hearing and critical comments from Republicans, including a message from the official White House Twitter account that said: "New hoax. Same swamp."
All this as aides insisted that Trump was working on other business.
"He’s not watching – he’s working,” White House spokesman Hogan Gidley told USA TODAY.
Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham later sent out a similar comment to the press pool, saying Trump "is in the Oval Office in meetings. He is working."
Trump spent much of the morning in the Oval Office, which is not outfitted with TVs, though he likely will be briefed on the proceedings on Capitol Hill. He will likely take questions from reporters about the testimony at his press briefing with Erdogan scheduled for later Wednesday.
Before his work day, Trump issued several tweets criticizing the Democratic-led impeachment inquiry.
Meanwhile, TVs were on throughout the West Wing, including in the offices of communication aides who figure to be responding to the day's events.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trump not watching live impeachment hearing, White House says