WASHINGTON — As Congress voted to move forward with its impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, a defiant president watched from the White House, publicly blasting the process as a "Hoax."
Trump spent much of the morning in the White House residence, watching TV and tweeting. He later headed to the Oval Office, where he was expected to hold policy meetings in the afternoon with lawmakers, according to an administration official, including a lunch with Republican senators and a separate meeting with GOP members of the House. He had no public events scheduled.
As Congress voted, the president tweeted that the "Impeachment Hoax is hurting our Stock Market.” His aides continued to assert the president has done nothing wrong, accusing Democrats of conducting an unfair process, despite the House's vote Thursday to open it up the process.
“Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats’ unhinged obsession with this illegitimate impeachment proceeding does not hurt President Trump; it hurts the American people,” the White House said in a statement.
Trump has been working “non-stop” to shore up Republican support since the House speaker announced the vote on the rules for the impeachment inquiry moving forward, a White House official said. He has met face-to-face with more than 60 House Republicans, made numerous calls, and directed his acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney to host more than two dozen Republican lawmakers at Camp David in recent weeks, the official said.
Those efforts appeared to pay off Thursday, at least for the moment: No Republicans voted for the measure approving procedures for the impeachment inquiry. Rep. Justin Amash, who changed his party affiliation from Republican to independent earlier this year, did back the measure.
But the White House didn’t get as many Democratic defections as it had hoped for — just two, rather than the four or five it had sought, crossed over party lines.
House Democrats are now expected to begin holding public hearings in the next few weeks in which evidence that has been gathered behind closed doors, and testimony, will be presented at public hearings.
The White House again accused Democrats of sacrificing domestic policy in exchange for impeachment.
“Instead of focusing on pressing issues that impact real families, like reducing gun violence, passing the USMCA, improving healthcare, lowering prescription drug costs, securing our southern border, and modernizing our aging infrastructure, the Democrats are choosing every day to waste time on a sham impeachment—a blatantly partisan attempt to destroy the President,” the White House said in the statement.
Trump’s daughter Ivanka, who often stays out of the political fray, came to her father's defense Thursday on Twitter, tweeting a quote attributed to Thomas Jefferson in which he described himself as “surrounded by enemies and spies catching and perverting every word that falls from my lips or flows from my pen, and inventing where facts fail them.”
The senior White House adviser added: “Some things never change, dad!”