White House: Intel impeachment report ‘reads like the ramblings of a basement blogger’
The White House on Tuesday dismissed a draft report by the House Intelligence Committee accusing President Trump of soliciting foreign interference in the 2020 election, saying that the document “reads like the ramblings of a basement blogger straining to prove something when there is evidence of nothing.”
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham described the House impeachment inquiry as a “one-sided sham process” in a statement and said the Democratic-led Intelligence panel “failed to produce any evidence of wrongdoing by President Trump” through weeks of private and public testimony from witnesses about the Trump administration’s contacts with Ukraine.
“This report reflects nothing more than their frustrations. Chairman [Adam] Schiff’s [D-Calif.] report reads like the ramblings of a basement blogger straining to prove something when there is evidence of nothing,” Grisham said.
The House Intelligence Committee, led by Schiff, released a 300-page draft report earlier Tuesday accusing Trump of leveraging a White House meeting and security assistance in order to pressure Ukraine to publicly announce investigations that could benefit him politically.
“The President engaged in this course of conduct for the benefit of his own presidential reelection, to harm the election prospects of a political rival, and to influence our nation’s upcoming presidential election to his advantage,” the report states.
“The President placed his personal political interests above the national interests of the United States, sought to undermine the integrity of the U.S. presidential election process, and endangered U.S. national security,” it continues.
The Intelligence Committee is expected to vote to issue the report later Tuesday, after which it will be transmitted to the Judiciary Committee as part of the next phase of House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry.
The inquiry centers on a July 25 phone call during which Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to probe debunked allegations about Ukraine’s involvement in the 2016 hack of the Democratic National Committee and to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden’s dealings in Ukraine. The lengthy report issued Tuesday also draws on testimony from roughly a dozen witnesses who testified in connection with the inquiry.
Trump has insisted that he did nothing wrong in his interactions with Ukraine and that he raised the Bidens with Zelensky out of concern for corruption, not for political purposes. Trump has also insisted there was no quid pro quo in his interactions with Ukraine, despite testimony from witnesses in the inquiry.
The Judiciary panel is slated to hold a hearing Wednesday morning with constitutional law experts as it takes steps toward potentially drafting articles of impeachment. The White House has refused to participate in the hearing, accusing Democrats of being unfair and denying Trump due process.
The release of the report comes as Trump is traveling in London for a NATO leaders meeting. The president is expected to return to Washington late Wednesday.
Trump repeatedly criticized the impeachment inquiry in remarks earlier Tuesday during a series of bilateral meetings, calling it a “hoax” and saying the process had brought Republicans together.
“I think it’s very unpatriotic of the Democrats to put on a performance where they do that,” Trump told reporters during a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. “I think it’s a bad thing for our country. Impeachment wasn’t supposed to be used that way. All you have to do is read the transcripts; you’ll see there was absolutely nothing done wrong.”
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