WASHINGTON – United States President Donald Trump said on Thursday that he considers impeachment – which is being considered by Democratic lawmakers – “a dirty, filthy, disgusting word,” simultaneously lambasting former Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who headed the independent so-called “Russia probe.”
Trump, who spoke with reporters outside the White House before boarding the presidential helicopter to begin a journey to Colorado, claimed that Mueller was “a true never-Trumper.”
On Wednesday, the special counsel publicly said that his work was completed, leaving in the hands of Congress whether or not to launch impeachment proceedings against Trump for alleged obstruction of justice in the case.
In response to a reporter’s question about whether he expected to be the target of impeachment proceedings, Trump answered “There was no high crime and no misdemeanor. So how do you impeach on that?” adding that he feels that impeachment is “a dirty, filthy, disgusting word” and that discussing it amounts to harassment of the president.
During his public statement on Wednesday, Mueller announced his resignation as special counsel given that he has concluded his work and submitted his report, noting specifically that “charging the president with a crime was not ... an option we could consider,” adding that to do so would have been unconstitutional.
Mueller thus left to Congress the decision on whether to pursue the matter against Trump.
Last March, Mueller finished his investigation of the alleged links between Trump’s 2016 election campaign and the Kremlin and in his final report he said that there was insufficient evidence to charge a broader conspiracy between Trump and Moscow to help his election chances, and they did not reach a conclusion about whether Trump obstructed justice by trying to impede and end the probe.
During his remarks on Wednesday, Mueller said: “if we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so.”
“We did not, however, make a determination as to whether the president did commit a crime,” he said.
Shortly before meeting with reporters, Trump apparently acknowledged for the first time in a Twitter post that he feels Russia contributed to his election victory in 2016, although he denied having any links with Moscow.
“Russia, Russia, Russia! That’s all you heard at the beginning of this Witch Hunt Hoax...And now Russia has disappeared because I had nothing to do with Russia helping me to get elected. It was a crime that didn’t exist,” Trump tweeted.
But when he spoke with reporters, Trump declared: “You know who got me elected? I got me elected. Russia didn’t help me at all.”
The Russians, “I think, helped the other side,” meaning the campaign of his Democratic presidential rival, Hillary Clinton, he asserted.
The decision on whether to launch impeachment proceedings or take other action against the president is now in Congress’s hands, but Democrats are divided about the possible political implications such a move would have on their chances in the 2020 elections.
Although Democrats are in control of the House, where impeachment proceedings would start, the president would be tried in the Senate, where Republicans hold the majority, and many observers feel that conviction there is simply not in the cards because at least 20 of the 53 GOP senators would have to vote against Trump to attain the two-thirds majority that would ensure his ouster.
Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi insisted last week that “nobody is above the law” in commenting on the president’s behavior and has been resisting the idea of launching impeachment proceedings although she has toughened her remarks about Trump in recent weeks and has accused him of engaging in a “cover-up.”
On Wednesday, she said that “The Special Counsel’s report revealed that the president’s campaign welcomed Russian interference in the election, and laid out 11 instances of the president’s obstruction of the investigation. The Congress holds sacred its constitutional responsibility to investigate and hold the president accountable for his abuse of power.”
She said that Congress “will continue to investigate and legislate to protect our elections and secure our democracy. The American people must have the truth.”