- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 16, 2020

As senators were sworn in to hear his impeachment trial Thursday, President Trump declared the case against him “is not going anywhere.”

“I think it should go very quickly,” the president said of the trial. “It’s a complete hoax, the whole thing with Ukraine.”

Mr. Trump complained to reporters that network TV news coverage of his China trade deal Wednesday was “the second story,” with the networks giving the impeachment trial — “a total hoax” — top billing.

The president predicted that the Senate’s approval Thursday of a major trade deal with Canada and Mexico likewise “will probably be second [on the nightly news] to this witch-hunt hoax, which hopefully everyone knows is not going anywhere.”

A reporter also pressed the president about his acquaintance with Lev Parnas, an indicted former associate of Trump lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, who is claiming in numerous TV interviews that the president knew all about their efforts in Ukraine to undermine Democratic presidential candidate Joseph R. Biden.

“I don’t know Parnas. I don’t know him at all, don’t know what he’s about,” the president said. “He’s trying to probably make a deal for himself.”

Questioned about photographs of himself with Mr. Parnas, the president said, “I guess he attended fundraiser, so I took a picture with him, I’m in a room, I take thousands and thousands of pictures with people all the time. I do it openly and I do it gladly. I never had a conversation that I remember with him. I don’t need the help of a man I never met before.”

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said Mr. Parnas “obviously is desperate to get attention.”

“And he’s somebody who was arrested and indicted on some serious criminal … campaign finance charges,” she said.

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said of Mr. Parnas, “This is a man who’s under indictment and who’s actually out on bail.”

“This is a man who owns a company called Fraud Inc., so I think that’s something that people should be thinking about. We’re not too concerned about it,” she said on Fox News. “It’s unfortunate that he’s now making a media tour with a lot of the outlets that are, you know, against the president. I think that shows exactly what he’s doing.”

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