Top congressional Democrats are trying a new tactic to respond to Donald Trump’s impeachment attacks, using the attention to challenge Trump to publicly testify.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Sunday invited Trump to testify before the House Intelligence Committee, which this week began holding public impeachment hearings. As The Associated Press noted, Pelosi responded to complaints from Trump that the process has been unfair and amounts to a political witch hunt against him.
Appearing on CBS’s Face the Nation, Pelosi said that if Trump believes he is innocent, he has the right to bring any exculpatory information directly to the committee. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer also challenged Trump to testify rather than tweeting his complaints.
“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 said, questioning what the president could be hiding given the White House’s efforts to prevent top officials from testifying before the House committee.
Trump’s attacks have grown as the fast-moving impeachment inquiry moved into its public phase this week. The president frequently takes to Twitter to accuse Democrats of overseeing an unfair process that is shutting out both him and Republicans on the committee.
He joined in attacking committee chair Adam Schiff for cutting off Republican Congresswoman Elise Stefanik when she tried to question former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch during a time reserved only for the ranking Republican member and Republican counsel. Republicans complained that Schiff was unfairly silencing Stefanik, though she was later able to ask questions during the time allotted to other committee members.
Trump also leveled an attack at Yovanovitch while she was testifying, taking to Twitter to accuse her of poor performance in countries where she had been stationed, blaming her for problems in Somalia and other posts. The tweet led to bipartisan criticism of Trump and allegations that he was trying to intimidate an impeachment witness.
Political experts say that the impeachment hearings so far have been damaging to Trump, establishing that he made efforts to pressure Ukraine into launching an investigation of political opponent Joe Biden and Biden’s son, Hunter.
Testifying could be even more damaging, as reports during the Russia investigation noted that top White House officials were afraid that Trump would commit perjury if he were put under oath.