WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump suggested Monday he might be willing to offer written testimony in the House impeachment inquiry over whether he pressured Ukraine’s president to investigate Joe Biden and his son while withholding aid to the country. But people familiar with the matter cautioned that the conditions for his testimony were unlikely to be met.
In a pair of tweets, Trump said he will “strongly consider” an offer by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to testify before the House impeachment panel. Pelosi told CBS’ “Face the Nation” in an interview aired Sunday that Trump could come before the committee and “speak all the truth that he wants.”
Trump tweeted: “She also said I could do it in writing. Even though I did nothing wrong, and don’t like giving credibility to this No Due Process Hoax, I like the idea & will, in order to get Congress focused again, strongly consider it!”
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said Trump “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 told reporters. He said the White House’s insist the president provided written answers to questions from special counsel Robert Mueller during his probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
While some officials have complied with subpoenas, Trump has made defiance the official posture of his administration in the face of congressional demands for testimony and documents. He’s objecting to impeachment inquiry rules that don’t give his attorneys the right to cross-examine witnesses and review documents. Two people familiar with the matter said Trump would only seriously consider testifying if Democrats acceded to the president’s demands. They spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.
Mueller’s team tried to interview the president for more than a year before Trump submitted the written testimony in response to questions on certain Russia-related topics in November 2018.
But Mueller found many of Trump’s answers in the Russia probe less than satisfying. He said in his final report to Congress that the answers showed “the inadequacy of the written format,” especially since the office was unable to ask follow-up questions.ence on blocking witnesses from cooperating begs the question: “What is he hiding?”
The comments come as the House Intelligence Committee prepares for a second week of public hearings as part of its inquiry, including with the man who is arguably the most important witness. Gordon Sondland, Trump’s ambassador to the European Union, is among the only people interviewed to date who had direct conversations with the president about the situation because the White House has blocked others from cooperating with what it dismisses as a sham investigation. And testimony suggests he was intimately involved in discussions that are at the heart of the investigation into whether Trump held up U.S. military aid to Ukraine to try to pressure the country’s president to announce an investigation into Democrats, including former Vice President Joe Biden, a leading 2020 candidate, and Biden’s son Hunter.
Multiple witnesses overheard a phone call in which Trump and Sondland reportedly discussed efforts to push for the investigations. In private testimony to impeachment investigators made public Saturday, Tim Morrison, a former National Security Council aide and longtime Republican defense hawk, said Sondland told him he was discussing Ukraine matters directly with Trump.
Morrison said Sondland and Trump had spoken approximately five times between July 15 and Sept. 11 — the weeks that $391 million in U.S. assistance was withheld from Ukraine before it was released.
And he recounted that Sondland told a top Ukrainian official in a meeting that the vital U.S. military assistance might be freed up if the country’s top prosecutor “would go to the mike and announce that he was opening the Burisma investigation.” Burisma is the gas company that hired Hunter Biden.
Mueller’s team cited dozens of answers that it considered incomplete or imprecise. Trump said he had no recollection for several questions posed by the special counsel’s office
After Trump submitted the written answers, the special counsel’s office again sought an in-person interview with Trump, but the president declined.