'Crusade,' 'spiteful,' 'unfettered contempt': Trump lambastes Pelosi over impeachment in blistering letter

“More due process was afforded to those accused in the Salem Witch Trials,” Trump wrote.
Image: US President Donald J. Trump and First Lady Melania Trump host President of Guatemala Jimmy Morales and his wife Marroquin Argueta de Morales
President Donald Trump waits behind U.S. Marines before greeting the president of Guatemala at the White House on Dec. 17, 2019.Michael Reynolds / EPA

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By Adam Edelman, Shannon Pettypiece and Hans Nichols

President Donald Trump on Tuesday excoriated House Speaker Nancy Pelosi over her effort to have him impeached, calling it a partisan “crusade,” an “unprecedented and unconstitutional abuse of power” and a “spiteful” “election-nullification scheme.”

In a rambling six-page letter, Trump accused Pelosi of having “cheapened the importance of the very ugly word, impeachment” and said she was “declaring open war on American Democracy” by pursuing his impeachment.

“You dare to invoke the Founding Fathers in pursuit of this election-nullification scheme — yet your spiteful actions display unfettered contempt for America’s founding and your egregious conduct threatens to destroy that which our Founders pledged their very lives to build,” Trump wrote.

“It is a terrible thing you are doing, but you will have to live with it, not I!” Trump added in the blistering and brooding letter, which contained 16 exclamation points.

Trump added that he’d been “deprived of basic Constitutional Due Process” from “the beginning of this impeachment scam.”

“More due process was afforded to those accused in the Salem Witch Trials,” he wrote.

The full House is expected to vote on two articles of impeachment against Trump — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress — on Wednesday.

Read the full text of the letter below

"The Articles of Impeachment introduced by the House Judiciary Committee are not recognizable under any standard of Constitutional theory, interpretation, or jurisprudence. They include no crimes, no misdemeanors, and no offenses whatsoever," Trump wrote. "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 went on to address each of the articles against him that have been recommended by the House Judiciary Committee. He called the first — abuse of power — "a completely disingenuous, meritless, and baseless invention of your imagination" and the second — obstruction of Congress — "preposterous and dangerous."

Those articles were passed by the committee after weeks of damaging testimony about Trump's alleged conduct from past and present diplomats and other government officials, as well as legal scholars. They asserted the president had improperly withheld security aid to Ukraine for political reasons, including seeking an investigation of former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter.

Download the NBC News app for full coverage of the impeachment inquiry

Trump, however, told Pelosi, D-Calif., in the letter that she and her fellow Democrats "are the ones interfering in America’s elections."

"You are the ones subverting America’s Democracy. You are the ones Obstructing Justice. You are the ones bringing pain and suffering to our Republic for your own selfish personal, political, and partisan gain," he wrote. Trump added that the Democrats' impeachment effort was "nothing more than an illegal, partisan attempted coup that will, based on recent sentiment, badly fail at the voting booth.”

He also accused Democrats of having "never recovered" from their 2016 election defeat and suggested they'd "developed a full-fledged case of what many in the media call Trump Derangement Syndrome."

"And sadly, you will never get over it!" he wrote.

Trump relied on political aides to draft the letter to Pelosi, and not the White House Counsel’s office, according to two people familiar with the matter.

An initial draft of the letter was generated for the president last week by Stephen Miller, Michael Williamson from the chief of staff’s office and Eric Euland from the Office of Legislative Affairs, without the input of White House Counsel, according to the two people familiar with the matter. The President was also very involved in the process.

The White House Counsel’s office was given a copy of the draft last week, a couple of days after it was first produced, and offered edits and changes. But the people familiar with the matter said it was unclear if the president incorporated any of the inputs from White House Counsel Pat Cipollone or if he altered the letter with his edits.

A third person familiar with the matter told NBC News that the White House counsel recommended changes to the letter, some of which were incorporated, but other changes were rejected. That person said the idea for the letter was Trump’s and he oversaw the process and the content.

Meanwhile, Trump, moments after releasing the letter publicly, told reporters inside the Oval Office that he doesn’t take any responsibility for the actions that have led to the House’s planned vote Wednesday on his impeachment, maintaining he did nothing wrong and that Democrats' actions will leave a “mark on this country.”

"It’s a hoax we look forward to getting on to the Senate. We are not entitled to a lawyer, we are not entitled to witnesses, we are not entitled to anything in the House, it's a total sham,” Trump told reporters before a meeting with the president of Guatemala.

Trump also complained that because of congressional immunity, House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff cannot be prosecuted for Trump’s allegations that Schiff mischaracterized the July 25 phone call with the Ukrainian president.

"In Guatemala, they handle things much, much tougher than that," Trump said.

Trump said he would let Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., decide which witnesses to call during a Senate trial.

Republicans have signaled they would like to see a speedy trial, potentially with no witnesses while Trump has indicated he’d like to see a number of witnesses — including the whistleblower, whose complaint contributed to the launching of the impeachment inquiry in the first place — called to testify.