President Donald Trump on Tuesday rejected the possibility of U.S. lawmakers censuring him over accusations he improperly pressured Ukraine to probe a political rival, as a congressional committee prepared to layout Democrats’ case for impeachment.
Trump, speaking at a wide-ranging, nearly hour-long news conference at the NATO summit in London, lashed out at Democrats in the House of Representatives leading the impeachment inquiry into the Ukraine matter.
Trump also denounced the censure idea raised by some members of Congress as “unacceptable”.
The Democratic-controlled House Intelligence Committee is scheduled to vote on its findings later on Tuesday.
The matter will then go to the House Judiciary Committee, which will launch its proceedings on Wednesday.
The full House would then vote on the formal impeachment charges, setting up a trial in the Republican-led U.S. Senate if it passes the lower chamber.
So far, analysts doubt Trump’s fellow Republicans would convict and remove him from power, although some lawmakers have raised the idea of censure in recent days as a way to rebuke the president’s actions without the risk of removal from office.
“I did nothing wrong. You don’t censure somebody when they did nothing wrong,” Trump said in London.
“Not only wasn’t there a crime, it is not even a word that should be used,” Trump continued.
“I had a very, very good conversation with the head of Ukraine. And, by the way, yesterday, he came out again and reaffirmed again that we had a very, very respectful, good conversation that President Trump did nothing wrong.”
“He doesn’t even really understand what’s going on over here. They look at us like: ‘Is this country crazy?’”
“The Democrats have gone nuts, they’re crazy. And it is very bad for our country,” Trump added.
Should Congress vote to censure Trump, it would make him only the second president in history to be explicitly reprimanded. In 1834, President Andrew Jackson was censured by the Senate in a fight over the survival of the Bank of the United States.
In Washington on Tuesday, Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee plan to release their findings in their impeachment probe before turning it over to the Judiciary Committee, which is holding its first hearing on Wednesday.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff on Monday said the panel was finalising its report for a public release on Tuesday, with panel members expected to vote on it Tuesday night.
Republicans, in a prebuttal report released on Monday, said that Democrats had not established that Trump had committed an impeachable offense.
At issue is whether the Republican president misused the power of his office to pressure Kiev to investigate former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, who is seeking the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.
Lawmakers and the public have heard testimony from current and former officials that military aid was withheld from Ukraine.
A White House meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy was conditioned on Kiev probing Biden and his son Hunter as well as a debunked conspiracy theory about Ukraine interference in the 2016 U.S. election.