Trump says impeachment trial should move 'very quickly'

President TrumpDonald John TrumpChasten Buttigieg: 'I've been dealing with the likes of Rush Limbaugh my entire life' Lawmakers paint different pictures of Trump's 'opportunity zone' program We must not turn our heads from the effects of traumatic brain injuries 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 Biden'Where's your spoon?' What we didn't learn in the latest debate Sanders nabs endorsement from Congressional Hispanic Caucus member Poll: Sanders holds 7-point lead in crucial California primary 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 BoltonBolton on impeachment: 'My testimony would have made no difference to the ultimate outcome' Overnight Defense: Dem senator met with Iranian foreign minister | Meeting draws criticism from right | Lawmakers push back at Pentagon funding for wall We should listen to John Bolton 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 McConnellEverytown plans ad blitz on anniversary of House background check bill Kentucky state official says foreign adversaries 'routinely' scan election systems Don't let 'welfare for all' advocates derail administration's food stamp program reforms 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.