Testy Trump adds fuel to raging impeachment battle

John T Bennett –
Dodge. Deny. Defame. Those three words sum up a clearly perturbed President Donald Trump’s performance under questioning last Wednesday about House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry.
Twice Trump faced reporters and twice he grew agitated — sometimes appearing angry — as he snapped at attempts to ask pointed follow-ups and painted Democrats’ inquiry as a
“hoax” and “fraud.”
In signature fashion, the real estate mogul and former reality television host is using a verbal and electronic sledgehammer as his primary weapon against House Democrats. Some GOP operatives and lawmakers have expressed concern that Trump’s response — he is, so far, shunning a Bill Clinton-style impeachment war room — has been too brusque.
“The Ukraine investigation (messaging) is proving hard for a couple of reasons. One is that the president himself admitted to asking a foreign head of state to help him politically — and even without the quid pro quo of aid money,” said one GOP strategist granted anonymity to be candid.
“That’s a real problem. Another is that only two men — the president and (his personal attorney) Rudy Giuliani — really know all the facts, and no one trusts either man.”
No moment summarised the scene or served as a symbol of a day in which the president lobbed curse words, insults and unsubstantiated charges at House Intelligence Chairman Adam B Schiff and other Democrats than Trump’s angry back-and-forth with Reuters’ White House correspondent Jeff Mason.
“What do you want or what did you want President Zelenskiy to do with regard to Joe and Hunter Biden,” Mason asked, referring to Volodymyr Zelenskiy and a July 25 telephone conversation on which a White House-crafted summary shows Trump asking his counterpart to “do us a favour” by investigating the Bidens immediately after the Ukrainian leader mentioned a desire to buy more American anti-tank weapons.
Trump never directly answered Mason’s question. Instead, he began by falsely stating the call summary shows Zelenskiy first mentioning Giuliani. The summary shows Trump doing that. It is merely the latest time the president has contradicted that document.
“What I want is the following,” Trump started to say before pivoting to a rant about the level of US aid that goes to Ukraine versus how much Kyiv receives from European countries. As Mason pressed, Trump grew visibly agitated, barking at one point: “Biden and his son are stone-cold crooked. His son walks out with millions of dollars. The kid knows nothing.” — dpa