As a House committee began its first round of impeachment hearings Wednesday in Washington, D.C. President Donald Trump in London downplayed revelations of phone conversations with attorney Rudy Giuliani that may detail their actions with regard to Ukraine.
Speaking at a NATO-related meeting with Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, Trump called Giuliani a “great crime fighter,” dismissing a House report that said Giuliani, a private attorney, worked with Trump as he tried to pressure Ukraine into investigating Democratic political opponents, the subject of the ongoing impeachment inquiry.
“What difference does that make? They’re only after him because he’s done such a good job,” he told reporters. “Rudy is a great gentleman and they’re after him only because he’s done such a good job. He was very effective against Mueller and the Mueller Hoax.”
He continued to complain about the NATO trip and attack the Democratic-led impeachment hearing back in Washington.
“You almost question whether or not they love our country and that’s a very serious thing. Do they love our country?” he said of Democrats.
Earlier while meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Trump referred questions about the calls to Giuliani – “you have to ask him” – and added that it was all “no big deal.”
Giuliani, who has for months refused to detail his discussions with Trump, tweeted that “the mere fact I had numerous calls with the White House does not establish any specific topic. Remember, I’m the President’s attorney.”
Mocking Democrats and the media over impeachment claims, Giuliani said in a separate post: “They’ve already taken away @realDonaldTrump’s right to call witnesses, cross-examine, confront his accusers, or be represented by counsel at hearings. Now he can’t talk to his counsel on the telephone?”
Records of phone calls with Giuliani surfaced as Trump attended a series of NATO meetings in London.
Trump has attacked the impeachment process throughout his trip, including the fact that the House Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing on the day of NATO meetings. The committee hearing will feature law professors discussing the constitutional standards for impeachment.
On Tuesday, a group of House committees issued a 300-page impeachment report accusing Trump of seeking “to use the powers of his office to solicit foreign interference on his behalf in the 2020 election.”
It said Trump asked Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate U.S. Democrats, including presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter, who had business interests in the country.
It said Trump withheld military aid and refused to meet with Zelensky until he followed through with an announcement of the investigations.
“In doing so, the President placed his own personal and 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,” the report said.