As impeachment fever grips Washington and witnesses’ testimony presents an increasingly damning narrative, President Donald Trump continues to stick to the same script that it’s all just another witch hunt.
During a Wednesday rally for the Republican gubernatorial candidate of Louisiana, Eddie Rispone, Trump interspersed his talk with a scattering of indignation at what he called House Democrats’ “deranged, delusional and destructive and hyper-partisan” impeachment inquiry.
“Now we go again,” Trump said about the investigation on Wednesday night in Monroe, La., after more than a day of near-silence during which deposition transcripts were released and Democrats announced that public hearings would begin next week.
Trump went after the whistleblower who first brought to light the president’s effort to pressure the leader of Ukraine to investigate the Biden family. He characterized the whistleblower as a partisan, citing old tweets by the person’s lawyer that were unfavorable to the president.
Trump on Wednesday maintained his repeated defense that his correspondence with President Volodymyr Zelensky was appropriate and that there was no pressure to dig up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter in exchange for military aid to Ukraine.
Shortly after reports of the whistleblower complaint went public in September, Trump released a summary of his call with Zelensky. During the rally, the president again said that the partial transcript absolved him of wrongdoing, and he questioned why the whistleblower hadn’t taken a larger place on the impeachment stage since.
(The whistleblower’s lawyers have publicly said their client has little more to add after the congressional inquiry substantiated — and expanded on — their client’s initial complaint.)
But Trump’s old defenses had to hold up against a number of new turns this week. Five transcripts of depositions released in the past three days paint a fuller picture of how exactly Ukraine policy was altered in a politically advantageous way. New accounts reveal the shake-ups in the foreign-policy community amid the Ukraine scandal, including alarms over a what appears to have been a Trump-ordained quid pro quo.
And Rudy Giuliani — the president’s personal attorney, who has been instrumental in pursuing an investigation into unfounded theories about both the Bidens and Ukraine’s role in meddling in the 2016 election — is lawyering up as his involvement in the scandal deepens.
In the rally on Wednesday night, Trump didn’t directly address the revelations made before Congress. Rather, he threw at Democrats vague accusations of trying to obliterate values at the core of his base.
“On their campaign to transform America, Democrats are becoming increasingly totalitarian: suppressing dissent, defaming the innocent, eliminating due process, staging show trials and trying to overthrow American democracy to impose their socialist agenda,” the president told the crowd of thousands at the Monroe Civic Center.
“The radical left Democrats are trying to rip our nation apart,” he said.
Though the rally had its fair share of anti-impeachment rhetoric, Trump stuck largely to lauding the state’s Republicans ahead of the runoff election on Nov. 16. In past rallies, he has let his frustrations with the investigations that have followed him throughout his presidency overshadow the ostensible political goals of his talks.
A number of Trump’s allies also attended Wednesday’s rally, including Sen. John N. Kennedy (R-La.), who joined in the stream of attacks on the impeachment inquiry.
“Speaker Nancy Pelosi is trying to impeach him,” Kennedy said. “I don’t mean any disrespect, but it must suck to be that dumb.”
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