white house

Trump trashes Dems for holding impeachment hearing during his overseas trip

The House Judiciary panel's first hearing will coincide with the president's meeting with NATO leaders.

Donald Trump

President Donald Trump on Monday blasted House Democrats for scheduling an impeachment hearing this week during his trip abroad, echoing a recent line of attack by the White House’s top lawyer against the rapidly escalating inquiry.

“The Democrats, the radical left Democrats, the do-nothing Democrats decided when I'm going to NATO — this was set up a year ago — that when I'm going to NATO, that was the exact time,” Trump told reporters outside the White House, before departing for London to meet with fellow leaders of the western military alliance’s member nations.

“This is one of the most important journeys that we make as president, and for them to be doing this and saying this and putting an impeachment on the table, which is a hoax to start off with,” the president continued.

Later Monday morning, Trump tweeted a video of Air Force One taking off from Joint Base Andrews, writing in an accompanying message: “Heading to Europe to represent our Country and fight hard for the American People while the Do Nothing Democrats purposely scheduled an Impeachment Hoax hearing on the same date as NATO. Not nice!”

While Trump takes part on Tuesday and Wednesday in this year’s NATO summit, the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday will hold its first impeachment hearing since the conclusion of the probe’s public testimony before the House Intelligence Committee last month.

The White House informed the Judiciary panel Sunday that it would not participate in the hearing, arguing that “an invitation to an academic discussion with law professors does not begin to provide the president with any semblance of a fair process.”

In his five-page letter to Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, White House counsel Pat Cipollone charged that the committee chief “scheduled this initial hearing — no doubt purposely — during the time that you know the President will be out of the country attending the NATO Leaders Meeting in London.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also criticized the timetable as “very unfortunate” during an appearance Monday on “Fox & Friends.”

Trump’s top diplomat asserted there exists a “long tradition that we support presidents when they travel overseas to do their work,” and admonished Democratic lawmakers’ decision “to hold hearings back here in Washington to distract America's president from his important mission” in the United Kingdom.

“I mean, these are some of our most important allies and partners in keeping the American people safe and secure,” Pompeo said. “I regret that they've chosen to hold these hearings at the same time that the president and our entire national security team will be traveling to Europe, to London, to work on these important matters.”

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway on Monday characterized Trump's London trip as the latest episode in a busy presidency undeterred by the machinations of a fast-moving impeachment inquiry, and lamented the “split-screen government” of the executive and legislative branches.

“You cannot think of a bigger, brighter contrast than what's happening right now,” she told Fox News. “The president is on his way to NATO, where he has secured over $130 billion in additional NATO funds from NATO members, and you've got the Democrats doing basically nothing for the American people and trying to impeach a president three years running.”

Although administration officials have suggested Democrats are attempting to undermine Trump's presence at the NATO summit with their impeachment drive, Speaker Nancy Pelosi declined to answer a question regarding the proceedings on Monday during a news conference in Madrid. She is in Europe leading a congressional delegation attending a United Nations conference focused on climate change.

“We aren't here to talk about impeachment or the president of the United States,” Pelosi said, adding: “I have a rule of CODELs when we travel abroad — we don't talk about the president in a negative way. We save that for home.”

But Trump has shown a willingness to violate the unspoken Washington doctrine that domestic political disputes should stop “at the water's edge,” promoting North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's attacks on former Vice President Joe Biden during a state visit to Japan in May.