WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump closed out his trip to London for the annual North Atlantic Treaty Organization meeting Wednesday with a focus on his political problems back home: the House impeachment inquiry.
"It's a joke," Trump told reporters during a meeting with Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte.
"I watched Hannity, Sean Hannity. I watched Laura Ingraham. I watched Tucker Carlson. I watched a lot of other legal scholars, frankly, I watched some people with great legal talent and highly respected. Alan Dershowitz and many more, many more. I watched a very terrific former special prosecutor you know Ken. And Ken is a talented man and a smart man," Trump said, rattling off Fox News hosts and guests like Ken Starr who frequently appear on the cable network. "And I will tell you it is a uniform statement that I think pretty much right down the road, that what they are doing is a very bad thing for our country. It is of no merit."
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As Trump spoke, the House Judiciary Committee was just minutes into their first day of public testimony, hearing from legal experts and scholars about the roots of impeachment and the historical context.
"It’ll be boring," Trump said of Wednesday's session. "Not many people will be watching today.”
"You almost question whether or not they love our country and that’s a very serious thing: Do they love our country?" Trump said of the Democratic lawmakers leading the inquiry.
"To do it on a day like this where we’re in England and some of the most powerful countries in the world having very important NATO meetings. And it just happened to be scheduled on this day. It’s really honestly, it's a disgrace," Trump said, lamenting that he could not be in Washington.
House Judiciary Committee chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., invited Trump and his lawyers last week to attend the hearing, writing in a letter to the president that he should "stop complaining about the process” and instead take part in it.
White House counsel Pat Cipollone informed the committee on Sunday that the administration would not participate in Wednesday's hearing, calling it unfair.
Trump brushed off a report released Tuesday from House impeachment investigators that showed frequent calls between Rudy Giuliani, Trump's personal attorney, and the White House during important moments in the Ukraine scandal.
"I don't know anything about it," Trump said. "So somebody said he made a phone call into the White House, what differences does that make? I don't know. Is that supposed to be a big deal? I don't think so."
Trump had been expected to hold a news conference before departing London for Washington but called it off, saying he had already spent a significant amount of time with the media during the meeting.