Trump took to Twitter in the hours before the first of several hearings that will shape the remainder of his presidency. He tweeted out all caps mantras that he has deployed for weeks to deflect allegations of wrongdoing and quoted Fox News hosts who railed against Democrats leading the impeachment proceedings.
Trump demanded the public read the transcript of his July 25 call with Ukrainian Volodymyr Zelensky, which he has described as “perfect,” despite the document being a key piece of evidence in Democrats’ case.
“NEVER TRUMPERS!” Trump tweeted roughly two hours before the first public impeachment hearing was scheduled to begin.
“READ THE TRANSCRIPT!” he tweeted moments later, sharing the rallying cry that the president’s campaign has had printed on T-shirts.
The president’s allies took to the airwaves on Wednesday morning to plead Trump’s case on his preferred networks.
Former White House press secretary Sarah HuckabeeSarah SandersTrump expected to resume rallies in June Andrew Giuliani planning run for New York governor Trump appears at Sarah Huckabee Sanders campaign event MORE Sanders appeared on Fox Business Network to echo the administration’s talking points excoriating Democrats for pursuing an impeachment inquiry and suggesting the process may benefit Trump in the 2020 election.
Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh appeared on "Fox & Friends," where he dismissed the proceedings as a “partisan sham.”
Trump tweeted out that quote, questioning himself why Democrats were turning their questioning over to a staff counsel and suggesting without evidence that the lawyer leading questioning may have worked for him. Republicans are also expected to use outside counsel to conduct at least some questioning.
Trump also shared quotes from "Fox & Friends" host Steve Doocy and Fox News contributor Charles Hurt that accused the Democrats of unfairly targeting the president.
The White House has faced criticism for lacking a cohesive approach to defending Trump against the impeachment process as it unfolds. Administration officials have downplayed the need for a formal war room, and it’s unclear if its two new staffing hires will be in place before Wednesday’s proceedings. Trump has often used his Twitter account and campaign rallies to mount his own defense.
The president has an open schedule until noon on Wednesday, and he is likely to tune in to the hearings on television prior to the arrival of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for a high-stakes meeting.
Two senior U.S. diplomats, William Taylor and George Kent, are slated to testify publicly before the House Intelligence Committee about the Trump administration’s policy toward Ukraine. Both witnesses have already privately aired concerns about the involvement of Trump’s personal attorney Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiEric Trump lawyer in New York attorney general's fraud case quits Trump campaign knew soon after election that voting machine claims were false: report Trump lawyer offered six-point plan for Pence to overturn election: book MORE in matters related to Ukraine.
Taylor in his closed-door appearance has described an effort driven by Giuliani to try to leverage a White House meeting and aid to Ukraine to press Kyiv for investigations that could benefit Trump politically.
Trump has previously attacked Taylor, a career foreign service officer who has served in both Republican and Democratic administrations, as a “Never Trumper.” Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoWashPost fact-checker gives Pompeo four 'Pinocchios' for 'zombie' claim about Obama Iran deal Poll: Biden, Trump statistically tied in favorability Majority of voters disapprove of execution of Afghanistan withdrawal: poll MORE chose Taylor to lead the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv earlier this year.
Wednesday’s hearing promises to be a spectacle, as House Democrats try to build their case for impeaching Trump and the president’s Republican allies seek to bolster their defense of the president’s actions.
Republicans have sought to focus on the rough transcript of Trump’s July 25 phone call with Zelensky released by the White House as evidence Trump did not put pressure on Ukraine’s leader and that there was no quid pro quo in his dealings with Kyiv. Republicans have also sought to highlight that aid to Ukraine flowed to undercut testimony from witnesses that it was contingent on Ukraine making a public statement about launching investigations — something Kyiv never did.
The transcript, released by the White House in late September, shows that Trump asked Zelensky to do him “a favor” before suggesting Kyiv investigate a debunked conspiracy theory about Ukraine’s involvement in the 2016 hack of the Democratic National Committee server. Trump later raised the Bidens on the call and asked Zelensky to work with Giuliani and Attorney General William BarrBill BarrWoodward: Milley was 'setting in motion sensible precautions' with calls to China Barr-Durham investigation again fails to produce a main event Virginia governor's race enters new phase as early voting begins MORE.
The call triggered an intelligence community whistleblower complaint that formed the basis for Democrats’ impeachment inquiry. Trump has also sought to impugn the credibility of the anonymous whistleblower, highlighting unverified reports that the individual worked for former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenUN meeting with US, France canceled over scheduling issue Schumer moves to break GOP blockade on Biden's State picks GOP Rep. Cawthorn likens vaccine mandates to 'modern-day segregation' MORE.