"I want a trial." President Trump went on Fox & Friends Friday morning and said he looked forward to a Senate trial on impeachment to clear his name, reports Mediaite. After Trump made the statement, host Brian Kilmeade asked, "You want a trial?" And Trump doubled down: "Oh, I would! Look, number one, they should never, ever impeach." He said Democrats on the House intelligence panel failed to make their case—"there's nothing here"—and cited analyses he's heard, including on Fox, to back him up. (Indeed, the testimony does not appear to have changed any Republican minds.) Related:
- Repeats theory: In the Fox interview, Trump also repeated his belief that Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election and did so to benefit Hillary Clinton, taking the focus off of Russia. "Are you sure they did that?" asked Steve Doocy, per the Hill. "That's what the word is," responded Trump. This comes a day after former White House adviser Fiona Hill ridiculed the theory in her impeachment testimony and called it Russian propaganda.
- An accusation: Trump dismissed the testimony of Ukraine embassy staffer David Holmes, who said he overheard a phone call in which Trump asked diplomat Gordon Sondland about Ukraine investigations. "I guarantee you that never took place," said Trump.
- What's next: The House intelligence panel will write up a report and give it to the House Judiciary Committee in the next few weeks, per Axios. The judiciary panel will then draft and vote on articles of impeachment and send them to the full House. The timeline remains very much up in the air, but a vote to impeach could come by the end of December. The matter would then move to the Senate for a trial.
- Wild card: As of now, the House Intelligence Committee has no more scheduled hearings. But that could change if the courts compel big names such as former national security adviser John Bolton, White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to testify, notes the Washington Post. However, it's not clear when any such ruling might come, and Democrats have suggested they won't wait for it.
- GOP strategy: Republicans are expected to draft a counter-report in the House. And GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham has sent a letter to Pompeo asking for information on Joe and Hunter Biden, as well as other Obama administration officials, suggesting a "conservative counter-investigation" is in the works, per the Post.
- Another option: In the Wall Street Journal, conservative columnist Peggy Noonan thinks it's crystal clear now that "Trump muscled Ukraine for political gain." She doesn't think senators will convict, but she thinks "they should take seriously the idea of censuring him for abuse of power." This hasn't happened to a president since Andrew Jackson. Of course, Trump has been compared to Jackson before, and "in the end he will probably be proud of a tightening of the connection."
(As of now, a two-week trial in the Senate
is looking like a good bet.)