Pelosi Invites Trump to Testify 11/18 06:55
Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi invited President Donald Trump to
testify in front of investigators in the House impeachment inquiry ahead of a
week that will see several key witnesses appear publicly.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi invited President
Donald Trump to testify in front of investigators in the House impeachment
inquiry ahead of a week that will see several key witnesses appear publicly.
Pushing back against accusations from the president that the process has
been stacked against him, Pelosi said Trump is welcome to appear or answer
questions in writing, if he chooses.
"If he has information that is exculpatory, that means ex, taking away,
culpable, blame, then we look forward to seeing it," she said in an interview
that aired Sunday on CBS' "Face the Nation." Trump "could come right before the
committee and talk, speak all the truth that he wants if he wants," she said.
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer echoed that suggestion.
"If Donald Trump doesn't agree with what he's hearing, doesn't like what
he's hearing, he shouldn't tweet. He should come to the committee and testify
under oath. And he should allow all those around him to come to the committee
and testify under oath," Schumer told reporters. He said the White House's
insistence on blocking witnesses from cooperating begs the question: "What is
The comments come as the House Intelligence Committee prepares for a second
week of public hearings as part of its inquiry, including with the man who is
arguably the most important witness. Gordon Sondland, Trump's ambassador to the
European Union, is among the only people interviewed to date who had direct
conversations with the Republican president about the situation because the
White House has blocked others from cooperating with what it dismisses as a
sham investigation. And testimony suggests he was intimately involved in
discussions that are at the heart of the investigation into whether Trump held
up U.S. military aid to Ukraine to try to pressure the country's president to
announce an investigation into Democrats, including former Vice President Joe
Biden, a leading 2020 candidate, and Biden's son Hunter.
Multiple witnesses overheard a phone call in which Trump and Sondland
reportedly discussed efforts to push for the investigations. In private
testimony to impeachment investigators made public Saturday, Tim Morrison, a
former National Security Council aide and longtime Republican defense hawk,
said Sondland told him he was discussing Ukraine matters directly with Trump.
Morrison said Sondland and Trump had spoken approximately five times between
July 15 and Sept. 11 --- the weeks that $391 million in U.S. assistance was
withheld from Ukraine before it was released.
And he recounted that Sondland told a top Ukrainian official in a meeting
that the vital U.S. military assistance might be freed up if the country's top
prosecutor "would go to the mike and announce that he was opening the Burisma
investigation." Burisma is the gas company that hired Hunter Biden.
Morrison's testimony contradicted much of what Sondland told congressional
investigators during his own closed-door deposition, which the ambassador later
Trump has said he has no recollection of the overheard call and has
suggested he barely knew Sondland, a wealthy donor to his 2016 campaign. But
Democrats are hoping he sheds new light on the discussions.
"I'm not going to try to prejudge his testimony," Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn.,
said on "Fox News Sunday." But he suggested, "it was not lost on Ambassador
Sondland what happened to the president's close associate Roger Stone for lying
to Congress, to Michael Cohen for lying to Congress. My guess is that
Ambassador Sondland is going to do his level best to tell the truth, because
otherwise he may have a very unpleasant legal future in front of him."
The committee also will be interviewing a long list of others. On Tuesday,
it'll hear from Morrison along with Jennifer Williams, an aide to Vice
President Mike Pence, Alexander Vindman, the director for European affairs at
the National Security Council, and Kurt Volker, the former U.S. special envoy
On Wednesday the committee will hear from Sondland in addition to Laura
Cooper, a deputy assistant secretary of defense, and David Hale, a State
Department official. And on Thursday, Fiona Hill, a former top NSC staffer for
Europe and Russia, will appear.
Trump, meanwhile, continued to tweet and retweet a steady stream of
commentary from supporters as he bashed "The Crazed, Do Nothing Democrats" for
"turning Impeachment into a routine partisan weapon."
"That is very bad for our Country, and not what the Founders had in
mind!!!!" he wrote.
He also tweeted a doctored video exchange between Rep. Adam Schiff, the
Democratic chairman of the Intelligence Committee, and Republican Rep. Jim
Jordan, in which Schiff said he did not know the identity of the whistleblower
whose complaint triggered the inquiry. The clip has been altered to show Schiff
wearing a referee's uniform and loudly blowing a whistle.
In her CBS interview, Pelosi vowed to protect the whistleblower, whom Trump
has said should be forced to come forward despite longstanding whistleblower
"I will make sure he does not intimidate the whistleblower," Pelosi said.
Trump has been under fire for his treatment of one of the witnesses, the
former ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, whom Trump criticized by tweet
as she was testifying last week.
That attack prompted accusations of witness intimidation from Democrats and
even some criticism from Republicans, who have been largely united in their
defense of Trump
"I think, along with most people, I find the president's tweet generally
unfortunate," said Ohio Republican Rep. Mike Turner on CNN's "State of the
Still, he insisted that tweets were "certainly not impeachable and it's
certainly not criminal. And it's certainly not witness intimidation," even if
Yovanovitch said she felt intimidated by the attacks.
Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, said Trump "communicates in ways that sometimes
I wouldn't," but dismissed the significance of the attacks.
"If your basis for impeachment is going to include a tweet, that shows how
weak the evidence for that impeachment is," he said on ABC's "This Week."
And the backlash didn't stop Trump from lashing out at yet another witness,
this time Pence aide Williams. He directed her in a Sunday tweet to "meet with
the other Never Trumpers, who I don't know & mostly never even heard of, & work
out a better presidential attack!"