On the eve of his expected impeachment in the US House of Representatives, President Donald Trump accused Democrats of pursuing an “illegal, partisan attempted coup” and declaring war on American democracy as they seek to remove him from office for pressing Ukraine to investigate political rival Joe Biden.
Trump’s remarks came in a signed letter addressed to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, released as House lawmakers set the rules for debate ahead of Wednesday’s planned vote on two articles of impeachment – formal charges – against the Republican president.
At the same time, the Senate’s top Republican, Mitch McConnell, signaled he would not allow the expected upcoming Senate trial on impeachment charges to involve more fact finding about Trump’s conduct. The Republican-led Senate is unlikely to vote to convict the president.
The rambling, six-page letter from Trump to Pelosi on White House letterhead largely restated the president’s objections to the impeachment probe, but did so in accusatory and sometimes spiteful language that attacked Pelosi, congressional Democrats, Biden and institutions such as the FBI.
Pelosi, Trump wrote, “is turning the House of Representatives from a revered legislative body into a Star Chamber of partisan persecution” while “scarcely concealing your hatred of me.”
The impeachment probe, the president said, was an “an illegal, partisan attempted coup that will, based on recent sentiment, badly fail at the voting booth,” alluding to the November 2020 US presidential election in which he is seeking another four years in office.
The US Constitution gives the House the power to impeach a president for “high crimes and misdemeanors,” part of the document’s checks and balances among the executive, legislative and judicial branches of the federal government.
The Democratic-led House is expected to pass two articles of impeachment charging Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress for his dealings with Ukraine.
“By proceeding with your invalid impeachment, you are violating your oaths of office, you are breaking your allegiance to the Constitution, and you are declaring open war on American Democracy,” Trump wrote.
“You view democracy as your enemy!” he wrote.
Asked about Trump’s letter, Pelosi told CNN: “I haven’t fully read it. We’ve been working. I’ve seen the essence of it though. It’s really sick.”
On the eve of the vote, Pelosi sent a letter to all 232 Democratic members of the House, urging them to defend the Constitution.
“Very sadly, the facts have made clear that the president abused his power for his own personal, political benefit and that he obstructed Congress as he demanded that he is above accountability, above the Constitution and above the American people,” she said.
House Democrats accuse Trump of abusing his power by asking Ukraine to investigate Biden, a former US vice president and a leading Democratic contender to oppose him in the 2020 election. Trump is also accused of obstructing the congressional investigation into the matter.