White House says Trump wasn't boasting about withholding material from Congress

White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said Thursday that President TrumpDonald John TrumpSchiff blasts Trump for making 'false claims' about Russia intel: 'You've betrayed America. Again.' Poll: Sanders leads 2020 Democratic field with 28 percent, followed by Warren and Biden More than 6 in 10 expect Trump to be reelected: poll MORE wasn’t bragging about withholding evidence from Congress when he said he had “all the material” and "they don't have the material" in the impeachment trial.

“What the president was clearly saying was that the evidence was all on our side,” Gidley told reporters at the White House when asked about Trump’s comments a day prior in Davos, Switzerland.

Democrats have seized on the remarks, claiming Trump was bragging about obstructing Congress — one of the articles of impeachment passed by the Democratic-controlled House last year. 


Attorney Robert Ray, a member of the president’s impeachment legal team, similarly disputed the characterization when asked about the president’s remarks on CNN.

“I think what he is suggesting is, we have the goods, we have the facts and merit on our side,” Ray said.

Trump made the comments during a press conference at the conclusion of his appearance at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

“So we're doing very well. I got to watch enough. I thought our team did a very good job. But honestly, we have all the material. They don't have the material,” Trump said. He insisted he did “nothing wrong” and that his conversation with Ukraine at the center of House Democrats’ case was “perfect” and “totally appropriate.” 

Rep. Val DemingsValdez (Val) Venita DemingsTrump set to confront his impeachment foes Live coverage: Senators query impeachment managers, Trump defense Trump allies throw jabs at Bolton over book's claims MORE (D-Fla.), one of the House impeachment managers presenting the case to the Senate, alleged that the remarks showed Trump both confessing and bragging about obstructing Congress.

“The second article of impeachment was for obstruction of Congress: covering up witnesses and documents from the American people,” Demings tweeted. “This morning the President not only confessed to it, he bragged about it.”


House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffSchiff blasts Trump for making 'false claims' about Russia intel: 'You've betrayed America. Again.' Trump: Nevada a 'great win' for Sanders Trump's Intel moves spark Democratic fury MORE (D-Calif.), the lead impeachment manager, made a near identical assertion.

“Well, indeed they do have the material hidden from the American people. That is nothing to brag about,” Schiff told reporters on Wednesday.

The White House blocked a number of witnesses from obeying subpoenas to testify in connection with the House impeachment inquiry, arguing they have immunity from compelled congressional testimony. The executive branch also refused to turn over subpoenaed documents.

House Democrats cited these actions as evidence the president obstructed the congressional inquiry into his dealings with Ukraine; Trump’s attorneys, meanwhile, have argued that Trump was making a legitimate assertion of executive privilege.

Democrats have been pushing for the Senate to subpoena additional witnesses and documents in the impeachment trial, which is currently underway.

Speaking on CNN, Ray said that the decision of whether to call witnesses or subpoena documents would be up to the Senate. 

The Republican-controlled Senate passed a resolution laying out the rules for the trial that delays a decision on calling additional witnesses — something most GOP members oppose — until after the opening arguments. 

“The question of whether there will be … any further evidence in the form of witnesses and documents, ultimately, is to the Senate to decide,” Ray told CNN. “I’m not here to tell the Senate what to do.”