President Trump lashes out in anger as Democrats warn of legal action
WASHINGTON — Unleashing unconcealed fury about Democrats and the press, President Donald Trump railed Wednesday against the investigation into his dealings with Ukraine, hours after House Democratic leaders warned the White House to expect a subpoena for documents. Democrats accused the administration of “flagrant disregard” of previous requests and said that refusal could be considered an impeachable offense.
Separately, the Democrats accused Trump of “an incitement to violence” against a national security whistleblower and advised him and his administration not to intimidate potential witnesses in the impeachment inquiry. The whistleblower exposed a July phone call that Trump had with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in which Trump pressed for an investigation of Democratic political rival Joe Biden and his family. Democrats say the pressure on Zelenskiy, on its own, constitutes an abuse of power worthy of impeachment scrutiny.
In appearances in the Oval Office and a joint press conference with the president of Finland, Trump displayed an unusual show of anger as he defended what he has called his “perfect” phone call with Zelenskiy. He suggested, without evidence, that House intelligence committee Chairman Adam Schiff may have committed treason, and, again without evidence, labeled Biden and his son “stone cold crooked.”
At one point, Trump demanded that a reporter pressing him on his dealings with Ukraine move on.
“Ask the president of Finland a question, please,” he said, emphasizing each word, eventually labeling the reporter “corrupt.”
Trump declined to answer yes or no when asked if he would cooperate with the House to produce requested documents on Ukraine.
"Well, I always cooperate,” he said, though his administration has repeatedly stonewalled congressional investigations. “This is a hoax,” he added.
Schiff, accusing Trump of inviting violence against the whistleblower, had said earlier that any effort to interfere with the Democrats’ investigations would be considered evidence of obstruction and could be included in articles of impeachment.
"We’re not fooling around here," he said.
Trump showed no signs of letting up, tweeting a vulgarity during the House leaders’ news conference and saying “the Do Nothing Democrats should be focused on building up our Country.” Throwing criticism broadly, he assailed Schiff as a “low-life” and said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s San Francisco has turned into a “tent city” of homeless.
Trump has tweeted in recent days that he wants to “find out about” the whistleblower and question him or her, though the person's identity is protected by the Whistleblower Protection Act.
The Democrats said they would subpoena the White House Friday for documents related to Trump’s dealings with Ukraine. House Oversight and Reform Chairman Elijah Cummings wrote in a memo to committee members that the action is necessary because the White House has ignored multiple requests.
Referring to a report on the whistleblower’s complaint, Cummings said that given the “stark and urgent warnings” the inspector general for the intelligence community has delivered to Congress, the panel has “no choice but to issue this subpoena.”
The subpoena will be directed toward acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and request 13 separate batches of documents related to the July call and related matters. The call unfolded against the backdrop of a $250 million foreign aid package for Ukraine that was being readied by Congress but stalled by Trump.
White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said the subpoena is “nothing but more document requests, wasted time and taxpayer dollars that will ultimately show the president did nothing wrong.”