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'I want a trial': Trump says Democrats have 'absolutely nothing' on him

Two weeks of public hearings have included notable testimony on the US president’s dealings with Ukraine.

Chairman of the committee Adam Schiff compared Trump’s behaviour to former president Richard Nixon.
Chairman of the committee Adam Schiff compared Trump’s behaviour to former president Richard Nixon.
Image: Patrick Semansky/AP/Press Association Images

US PRESIDENT DONALD Trump has said he doesn’t expect to be impeached, claiming Democrats have “absolutely nothing” incriminating on him. 

His comments come following days of public testimony by witnesses in the impeachment inquiry who say Trump withheld military aid from Ukraine in order to press the country to investigate his political rivals. 

Trump told Fox and Friends this morning that if the House did vote to impeach him, he would welcome a trial in the Senate. He complained that Republicans were unable to call witnesses during the hearings, suggesting a trial would enable him to question people like committee chairman Adam Schiff and the whistleblower. 

“I think it’s very hard to impeach you when they have absolutely nothing,” he said, adding that he was only holding back aid to root out corruption in Ukraine.

“The bottom line is, all of those witnesses, they’re all shifty Schiff’s.

“We wanted to call the whistleblower. You know who I want as the first witness, frankly, I want a trial.”

According to witness testimony, Trump explicitly ordered US government officials to work with his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani on matters related to Ukraine, a country deeply dependent on Washington’s help to fend off Russian aggression.

The US president pushed Ukraine to launch investigations into political rivals, leaning on a discredited conspiracy theory his own advisers disputed. And both American and Ukrainian officials feared Trump froze a much-needed package of military aid until Kiev announced it was launching those probes.

After two weeks of public hearings in the impeachment inquiry, these facts were confirmed by a dozen witnesses, mostly career government officials who have served both Democratic and Republican administrations. 

Trump’s 25 July call with Ukraine’s president is at the centre of the House impeachment probe but Trump says, “There was no quid pro quo,” contradicting testimony by impeachment witnesses.

trump-impeachment-hearings-hill-and-holmes-testify Former national security aide Fiona Hill said anyone with information ‘that Congress deems relevant has a legal and moral obligation to provide it’. Source: Michael Brochstein/Zuma Press/PA Images

With the public hearings complete, Democrats are now urgently plotting the way forward with a limited blueprint in just the nation’s fourth impeachment proceeding.

They must first decide whether to begin drafting articles of impeachment based on what has been revealed to this point or to launch a long-shot bid for testimony from additional witnesses who could provide more direct evidence of Mr Trump’s actions.

Democrats have requested testimony from acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and former national security adviser John Bolton, men who spent hours alongside Mr Trump in the West Wing and whose names popped up repeatedly in the testimony of other officials.

In a pointed moment in Thursday’s testimony, former White House national security official Fiona Hill said she believes “those who have information that the Congress deems relevant have a legal and moral obligation to provide it”.

Yet it appears unlikely that Mr Bolton and Mr Mulvaney will tell their stories to Congress. Citing executive privilege, both men have filed court cases to determine if they must appear.

The case Democrats plan to make in the coming days as they try to sway both Republicans and the American people is that the impeachment inquiry is not just about Mr Trump’s future – it is about what Americans should expect from their president.

Asked what the consequences are if Congress allows an American president to ask a foreign government to investigate a political rival, Ms Hill said simply: “It’s a very bad precedent.”

- With reporting from PA 

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Adam Daly

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