US president slams public impeachment hearings and defends his use of personal lawyer Giuliani for Ukraine policy. US President Donald Trump said on Friday he wants a trial in the United States Senate, suggesting he would be vindicated. “Frankly, I want a trial,” Trump told Fox News Channel’s Fox and Friends programme. The US president said, however, he did not think the House of Representatives would impeach him. “I think it’s very hard for them to impeach you if they have absolutely nothing,” Trump said. Trump’s comments come after two weeks of public hearings with 12 witnesses in the impeachment inquiry. The Democratic-led House is investigating whether Trump abused his power of office by pushing Ukraine to investigate a political rival.
The inquiry is centred on a July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in which the US leader asks his counterpart to launch an investigation into former US Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, who had served on a board of a Ukrainian gas company. Biden is also a 2020 Democratic presidential frontrunner. Testimony revealed that the administration was also pushing for an investigation into a debunked conspiracy theory that it was Ukraine, not Russia, that meddled in the 2016 US presidential election. At the time of the July 25 call, the Trump administration was withholding nearly $400m in military aid to Ukraine, prompting allegations Trump was using the money to get his desired investigations. The money was eventually released. There was been no evidence of wrongdoing by the Bidens. Trump has said he has done nothing wrong, labelling the impeachment investigation a “witch-hunt”.
Trump lashes out at witnesses
On Friday, Trump accused two witnesses of lying during the marathon public hearings. The Republican president took issue with testimony on Thursday by David Holmes, a US embassy official in Ukraine. Holmes said under oath that at a Kyiv restaurant he overheard a July 26 cellphone conversation in which Trump loudly pressed Gordon Sondland, the US ambassador to the European Union, for details on whether Ukraine would carry out politically motivated investigations the president was seeking. “I guarantee you that never took place,” Trump told Fox and Friends. “That was a total phony deal,” he added. Trump appointed Sondland to the envoy post after the wealthy Oregon hotelier donated $1m to his inaugural committee. While Sondland in testimony described an easy-going relationship between the two, Trump said on Friday he had spoken with him “a few times”, adding, “I hardly know him, OK?”