- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 10, 2019

President Trump denounced Democrats’ introduction of articles of impeachment Tuesday, saying his opponents have officially gone too far with their bogus claim that he cheated in the 2016 election and have turned it into a destructive, partisan article of faith.

On the campaign trail and at the White House, Mr. Trump and top advisers fought back against the Democrats’ one-sided effort to make him only the third president in history to be impeached, likely as soon as next week.

“Our poll numbers are through the roof because of her stupid impeachment,” Mr. Trump said of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi at a rally in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

Mr. Trump said the economy is so strong and the impeachment charges are so “weak” that they persuaded Democrats to agree finally to approve a new trade deal with Canada and Mexico.

“They’re embarrassed by it,” he said of impeachment. “There was absolutely nothing done wrong.”

There’s growing evidence that the public agrees. A new Quinnipiac University poll released Tuesday showed that 51% of registered voters don’t want Congress to impeach Mr. Trump, up from 48% just two weeks ago.

At the White House, senior staffers rolled their eyes and expressed weary disgust at House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff’s argument that Democrats must impeach Mr. Trump or allow him “to cheat in one more election.”

“It all goes back to trying to undo the results of 2016, because they can’t win in 2020,” said a senior administration official.

Another top White House aide was reminded of Mrs. Pelosi saying late last week that impeachment isn’t about the president’s actions with Ukraine last summer, but about Russia.

“They’re all over the place,” he said of the Democrats.

Attorney General William P. Barr, who disagreed with the Justice Department inspector general’s findings this week that the FBI was justified in starting its 2016 probe of alleged Russian collusion with the Trump campaign, told NBC News that the nation “was turned on its head for three years based on a completely bogus narrative that was largely fanned and hyped by an irresponsible press.”

As if to show his contempt for the disproved allegations of Russian collusion, Mr. Trump infuriated his detractors Tuesday by holding a private Oval Office meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

The White House said Mr. Trump urged Mr. Lavrov that Russia should withdraw from Ukraine militarily — an issue at the heart of the impeachment case — and that he “warned” Russia not to interfere in the 2020 election.

It was Mr. Lavrov’s first visit to Washington since a controversial White House meeting with Mr. Trump in 2017, just after the president had fired FBI Director James Comey. Democrats accused the president at the time of revealing highly classified details to Mr. Lavrov and then-ambassador Sergey Kislyak about the threat from the Islamic State.

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot L. Engel, New York Democrat, said Mr. Trump’s “pattern of cozying up to autocrats and our adversaries harms American interests and undermines American leadership.”

“While dialogue with the Russians is important, especially for strategic stability and the future of arms control, I have no confidence in President Trump to defend our interests in these conversations, he said. “With President Trump, all roads lead to Putin.”

As Democrats leveled their formal impeachment charges against the president rooted in old themes of kowtowing to Russia, the White House said the inquiry is worse for the nation than it is for Mr. Trump personally. Aides said Mr. Trump will have his day in court in a Senate trial.

“The announcement of two baseless articles of impeachment does not hurt the president, it hurts the American people, who expect their elected officials to work on their behalf to strengthen our nation,” said White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham. “The president will address these false charges in the Senate and expects to be fully exonerated, because he did nothing wrong.”

Ms. Grisham called the introduction of impeachment articles of abuse of power and obstructing Congress “a baseless and partisan attempt to undermine a sitting president.”

“Speaker Pelosi and House Democrats announced the pre-determined outcome of their sham impeachment — something they have been seeking since before President Trump was inaugurated,” she said. “House Democrats have long wanted to overturn the votes of 63 million Americans. They have determined that they must impeach President Trump because they cannot legitimately defeat him at the ballot box.”

She said the president’s July 25 phone call with the president of Ukraine “served as their excuse for this partisan, gratuitous and pathetic attempt to overthrow the Trump administration and the results of the 2016 election.”

Vice President Mike Pence said Democrats introduced the impeachment articles because they “can’t run against our record.”

Speaking at a VFW post in Rochester in western Pennsylvania, Mr. Pence called the impeachment effort “a disgrace” and added, “Pennsylvania needs another four years of Donald Trump.”

“Pray for America,” he told the audience.

The vice president was on a bus trip across the battleground state, arriving in Hershey to join the president for the campaign rally Tuesday night. At a diner in Somerset, Pennsylvania, a woman who referred to the impeachment inquiry told Mr. Pence, “I’m sorry what you guys go through.”

The vice president put his arm on her shoulder, said “Oh, gosh,” and offered his thanks. As he departed, the patrons applauded him.

Mr. Trump, meanwhile, fumed over the Robert Mueller investigation during his Pennsylvania rally. He revived his grievances with the FBI and investigators who examined alleged ties between his campaign and Russia, saying the probe backfired on his opponents.

The president characterized it as the start of a never-ending cycle that’s culminated in impeachment.

“We’re stronger politically than we were ever before,” Mr. Trump said.

Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale said Americans don’t agree with House Democrats’ “rank partisanship.”

“For months, Nancy Pelosi said she wouldn’t move forward on impeachment because it was too divisive and it needed bipartisan support,” Mr. Parscale said. “Well, it is divisive and only the Democrats are pushing it, but she’s doing it anyway. Democrats are putting on this political theater because they don’t have a viable candidate for 2020 and they know it.”

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