President Donald Trump on Monday blasted House Democrats for holding impeachment hearings while he is at a NATO summit in London and claimed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy had cleared him of wrongdoing in an interview published earlier in the day.
Speaking to reporters as he departed the White House for the summit, Trump said Democrats had "decided" to hold the upcoming hearings at "the exact time" he's in London. The president also said Zelenskiy "came out and said very strongly that President Trump did nothing wrong," adding, "that should end everything, but that will never end it."
Trump was referring to an interview that Time magazine and a handful of European publications published Monday in which Trump's Ukrainian counterpart said, "Look, I never talked to the president from the position of a quid pro quo."
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"I don’t want us to look like beggars," Zelenskiy when asked about the $400 in military aid Trump held up while he pushed the Ukrainians to investigate the Bidens and Democrats. "But you have to understand. We’re at war. If you’re our strategic partner, then you can’t go blocking anything for us. I think that’s just about fairness. It’s not about a quid pro quo. It just goes without saying."
Zelenskiy also criticized Trump for calling Ukraine a "corrupt" country, which is part of the reason his administration said it withheld the aid. The administration ultimately released the money two days after Congress was made aware of a whistleblower complaint.
Trump's comments also came after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo similarly criticized the House Judiciary Committee for scheduling an impeachment hearing for Wednesday while Trump is overseas, calling it "very unfortunate."
On Sunday, the White house said it would not participate in those proceedings, although the administration left open the possibility it might take part in future hearings.
Asked Monday why he would not have an attorney take part in the hearing, Trump said, "because it's a hoax" and "all you have to do is look at the word of the Ukrainian president."
Speaking in Madrid on Monday at a United Nations event on climate change, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said she would follow a rule of congressional delegations abroad and not discuss impeachment.
"When we travel abroad, we don’t talk about the president in a negative way," Pelosi said. "We save that for home.
"But nonetheless, we’re here to talk positively about our agenda to save the planet for future generations. And we, and our Congress right now, are doing many more things other than reviewing the possibility of impeaching the president."