A defiant President Trump said Wednesday the impeachment trial is a “con job,” but he’ll leave thorny decisions to senators, wrapping up a Swiss trip by calling key Democrats “major sleazebags” and saying it would be risky to call former National Security Adviser John R. Bolton to testify after leaving on “bad terms.”
Mr. Trump also said he plans to expand his ban on travelers from Muslim-majority countries. He refused to reveal which territories will be affected but said it would be announced soon.
The president spoke to reporters as he wrapped up his visit to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. He characterized the impeachment trial as a Democratic attempt to distract Americans from the economic victory lap he took at the forum.
“It’s horrible for our country. Our country needs to get back to business,” Mr. Trump said.
The president attacked Rep. Jerrold Nadler, a Democratic impeachment manager, as an old enemy from New York, dubbing him a “sleaze bag” after sparring with White House Counsel Pat Cipollone in the Senate overnight.
The exchange drew a rebuke from Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., who admonished the senators to remember “where they are.”
The president in Davos later repeated the phrase in slamming Rep. Adam B. Schiff, California Democrat, as “corrupt” and a “liar” and a “fraud.”
Mr. Trump said he wouldn’t mind seeing Mr. Bolton testify about what he knows about Ukraine, but he worries his former aide would reveal too much about private conversations about global leaders, harming the executive branch.
In the end, he said it will be up to senators to call witnesses or not.
“I have great respect for the Senate as a body and many of the individuals,” Mr. Trump said. “This is the greatest witch hunt.”
He also said reporters need to “talk to the lawyers” about whether abuse of power is an impeachable offense, refusing to wade into the finer details of the case against him.
Democrats accused Mr. Trump of abusing his office in holding up aid to Ukraine at the same time he was asking President Volodymyr Zelensky for assistance in investigations that may help him politically. They also say he obstructed Congress.
He repeated his earlier justifications for holding up military aid to Ukraine, saying he wanted to root out corruption in the Eastern European country and didn’t want to be the “sucker” nation.
“This was a perfect call and I think we’re doing very well,” Mr. Trump said.
He said if his phone call were impeachable, then the likes of John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson would have been ousted.
The president tried to focus on the economy in his press conference, saying the stock market is up, fewer people need food stamps and that his trade deals will lift up farmers.
The president confirmed he will expand the travel ban that sparked a lengthy legal fight earlier in his term, with Democrats accusing him of bigotry after floating an outright ban on Muslim visitors during the 2016 campaign. The clunky rollout of his travel ban sparked protests at airports during Mr. Trump’s first weeks in office.
Also Wednesday, Mr. Trump said 17-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg should focus on countries that pollute the most instead of lumping in the U.S. in her criticisms. He also suggested activists inflate the extent of the problem.
“They’ve put it at a level that is unrealistic to the point where you can’t live your lives,” Mr. Trump said.