Trump says he'll 'strongly consider' Pelosi offer to testify in impeachment inquiry
House Speaker said Trump could appear and 'speak all the truth that he wants'
President Donald Trump suggested Monday he might be willing to offer written testimony in the House impeachment inquiry over whether he pressured Ukraine's president to investigate Joe Biden and his son while withholding aid to the country.
In a pair of tweets, Trump says he will "strongly consider" an offer by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to testify before the House impeachment panel.
Trump tweeted, "She also said I could do it in writing. Even though I did nothing wrong, and don't like giving credibility to this No Due Process Hoax, I like the idea & will, in order to get Congress focused again, strongly consider it!"
Pelosi told CBS's Face the Nation in an interview aired Sunday that Trump could come before the committee and "speak all the truth that he wants."
The president provided written answers to questions from special counsel Robert Mueller during his probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Mueller's team tried to interview the president for more than a year before Trump submitted the written testimony in response to questions on certain Russia-related topics in November 2018.
But Mueller found many of Trump's answers in the Russia probe less than satisfying. The format, he said in his final report to Congress, showed "the inadequacy of the written format," especially since the office was unable to ask follow-up questions.
2 Republicans, different recollections
Mueller team cited dozens of answers that it considered incomplete or imprecise. Trump said he had no recollection for several questions posed by the special counsel's office
After Trump submitted the written answers, the special counsel's office again sought an in-person interview with Trump, but the president declined.
Democratic congressman Don Beyer of Virginia reacted skeptically to Trump's potential willingness, and also called on the White House to stop blocking the appearance of other officials the intelligence committee panel wants to hear from.
President Trump should testify.<br><br>He should allow top White House aides to testify.<br><br>He should allow Rick Perry and John Bolton and Rudy Giuliani to testify.<br><br>He should turn over the documents Congress subpoenaed.<br><br>He should end his illegal coverup.<br><br>I’m not holding my breath. <a href="https://t.co/DusTCEojJr">https://t.co/DusTCEojJr</a>—@RepDonBeyer
The House intelligence committee is preparing for a second week of public hearings as part of its inquiry, including with the man who is arguably the most important witness.
Gordon Sondland, Trump's ambassador to the European Union, is among the only people interviewed to date who had direct conversations with the president about the situation, because the White House has blocked others from co-operating with what it dismisses as a sham investigation.
Sondland's testimony suggests he was intimately involved in discussions that are at the heart of the investigation into whether Trump held up U.S. military aid to Ukraine to try to pressure the country's president to announce an investigation into Democrats, including former vice-president Joe Biden, a leading 2020 candidate, and Biden's son Hunter.
Multiple witnesses overheard a phone call in which Trump and Sondland reportedly discussed efforts to push for the investigations.
In private testimony to impeachment investigators made public Saturday, Tim Morrison, a former National Security Council aide and longtime Republican defence hawk, said Sondland told him he was discussing Ukraine matters directly with Trump.
Morrison said Sondland and Trump had spoken approximately five times between July 15 and Sept. 11 — the weeks that $391 million in U.S. assistance was withheld from Ukraine before it was released.
And he recounted that Sondland told a top Ukrainian official in a meeting that the vital U.S. military assistance might be freed up if the country's top prosecutor "would go to the mike and announce that he was opening the Burisma investigation." Burisma is the gas company that hired Hunter Biden.
Morrison's testimony contradicted much of what Sondland told congressional investigators during his own closed-door deposition, which the ambassador later amended.
Trump has said he has no recollection of the overheard call and has suggested he barely knew Sondland, a wealthy donor to his 2016 campaign. But Democrats are hoping he sheds new light on the discussions.
The committee will call several witnesses this week for public testimony, as follows:
- Tim Morrison, National Security Council adviser on Russia and Eastern Europe.
- Jennifer Williams, aide to Vice-President Mike Pence.
- Alexander Vindman, the director for European affairs at the National Security Council.
- Kurt Volker, the former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine.
- Gordon Sondland, Trump-appointed U.S. ambassador to European Union.
- Laura Cooper, a deputy assistant secretary of defence.
- David Hale, State Department official.
- Fiona Hill, former top National Security Council staffer for Europe and Russia.
- David Holmes, State Department official.