Trump says he’s not watching impeachment hearing — then critiques it

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U.S. President Donald Trump | Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

The US president said he hasn’t been briefed on the hearing. But he then went on to slam the Democrats’ lawyers.

President Donald Trump on Wednesday dismissed the House’s impeachment proceedings as a “hoax” and said he was “too busy to watch” — and then blasted Democrats’ choice of questioners at a hearing he said he hadn’t been briefed on.

“I’m sure I’ll get a report,” Trump told reporters at a short Oval Office pool spray with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. “I have not been briefed, no. There’s nothing there. I see they’re using lawyers that are television lawyers. They took some guys off television. I’m not surprised to see it because Schiff can’t do his own questions.”

Trump appeared to be citing Democrats’ decision to have Daniel Goldman, senior adviser and counsel to House Intelligence Democrats, take an early lead in questioning witnesses Bill Taylor and George Kent alongside Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.).

But the GOP is deploying the same strategy: Longtime GOP counsel and staffer Steve Castor has a starring role during Republicans’ questioning of the witnesses, along with Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.).

Trump and fellow Republicans have alternated all day between calling the impeachment hearing a boring affair not worth their time and painting it as a kangaroo court run amok with partisanship.

Earlier Wednesday morning, Trump railed against the impeachment inquiry, tweeting out lines of attack from his favorite morning cable news show hours before the probe’s first public hearings were set to commence.

In his first post on a morning critical to the fate of his presidency, Trump paraphrased remarks that conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh made Tuesday and that were rebroadcast during a segment on “Fox & Friends” early Wednesday.

“‘Millions of Americans will see what a partisan sham this whole thing is.’ Rush Limbaugh @foxandfriends,” Trump wrote online.

“Also, why is corrupt politician Schiff allowed to hand over cross examination to a high priced outside lawyer. Did that lawyer ever work for me, which would be a conflict?” he added.

The second line of Trump’s tweet, which invoked Schiff, appeared to refer to the congressman’s plans to yield significant questioning time to Goldman.

It was not immediately clear whether two of the more well-known lawyers for the Intelligence Committee’s Democratic lawmakers, Goldman and Daniel Noble, ever took on Trump as a client in his capacity as a private businessman — though such a possibility seems unlikely.

Goldman, the Intelligence Committee’s director of investigations, served 10 years as a federal prosecutor with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. Noble, a senior counsel for the committee, also worked in the Southern District, specializing in cybercrime and organized crime prosecutions.

“The Democrats have stacked the deck against President Trump and the Republicans. They have leaked out everything,” Trump complained in another morning missive, mentioning the Twitter handles for “Fox & Friends” and one of the program’s co-hosts, Steve Doocy.

The president also issued a three-part screed summarizing an appearance on the show by Charles Hurt, a conservative political commentator and the opinion editor of the Washington Times, and later tweeted two of his favored refrains amid the impeachment battle.

“NEVER TRUMPERS!” he wrote, adding: “READ THE TRANSCRIPT!”

Since 10 a.m., lawmakers have been hearing testimony from Kent, a deputy assistant secretary at the State Department whose portfolio includes Ukraine, and Taylor, the top U.S. envoy to Ukraine.

Both administration officials were previously deposed before members of three congressional committees last month, and the transcripts of those closed-door sessions were released to the public last week.

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