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Trump says impeachment trial should move 'very quickly'

President TrumpDonald TrumpVeteran accused in alleged border wall scheme faces new charges Arizona Republicans to brush off DOJ concern about election audit FEC drops investigation into Trump hush money payments MORE said Thursday that his impeachment trial should move “very quickly,” branding his impeachment in his familiar terms as a “hoax” and a “witch hunt” and characterizing the House’s case as weak. 

“I think it should go very quickly. It’s a hoax. It’s a hoax, everybody knows that,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office during an event announcing new guidance on prayer in public schools Thursday afternoon.

Trump went on to describe his phone call with Ukraine’s president, an event at the center of the House’s impeachment case, as “perfect” before complaining that impeachment has detracted from accomplishments of his administration, like his initial trade deal with China.

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“That was the second story to a total hoax,” Trump said of the trade pact with Beijing, which he announced in a ceremony at the White House on Wednesday. The ceremony occurred just as the House voted to send the articles of impeachment to the Senate. 

“The USMCA will probably be second to this witch-hunt hoax, which hopefully everyone knows is not going anywhere,” Trump said, referring to the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement approved by the Senate Thursday. “There was nothing done wrong. It was a perfect phone call.”

Trump has repeatedly accused House Democrats of moving to impeach him for political reasons, dismissing the evidence collected in the impeachment inquiry. 

The Democrat-controlled House voted largely along party lines to impeach Trump for abusing his power in his dealings with Ukraine and obstructing Congress last month. The Senate, which is controlled by Republicans, formally opened the impeachment trial by accepting the articles on Thursday.

The House’s case turns on a July 25 call during which Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to look into a debunked theory about 2016 election interference and to get information about former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenAtlanta mayor won't run for reelection South Carolina governor to end pandemic unemployment benefits in June Airplane pollution set to soar with post-pandemic travel boom MORE and his son Hunter’s dealings in Ukraine.

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Witnesses in the impeachment inquiry have described a pressure campaign by Trump’s allies to get Ukraine to announce the investigations; Trump has denied putting any pressure on Kyiv.

“We have the greatest economy in the history of our country. We have the highest jobs numbers,” Trump told reporters on Thursday. “And for absolutely no reason, I got impeached. It’s a disgrace and it’s a hoax.” 

Trump over the weekend suggested the Senate case should be dismissed outright, something Republicans brushed off.

A senior administration official predicted Wednesday the trial wouldn’t last longer than two weeks, reiterating the White House’s position that the Democrats’ case is weak and the upper chamber would not need to hear from witnesses. 

Democrats have pressed for the Senate to call witnesses like former national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonRepublicans request documents on Kerry's security clearance process Trump pushes back on Bolton poll Hillicon Valley: Facebook Oversight board to rule on Trump ban in 'coming weeks' | Russia blocks Biden Cabinet officials in retaliation for sanctions MORE, after they were unable to secure their testimony during the impeachment inquiry. Democrats will need to convince four Republican senators to vote with them to compel witness testimony.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell: Taliban could take over Afghanistan by 'the end of the year' McConnell alma mater criticizes him for 1619 comments McConnell amid Trump criticism: 'I'm looking forward, not backward' MORE (R-Ky.) and several other Republicans have indicated they have no appetite to call such witnesses, though at least three Republicans have publicly expressed an openness to hearing from witnesses.

The trial, in which arguments will kick off next week, could proceed much longer if witnesses are called.