'Shifty Schif' the 'low-life' - Trump on the attack over impeachment inquiry

US president says investigation ‘a hoax’ and calls congressman Adam Schiff ‘a low-life’

US president Donald Trump lashed out at Democrats for launching an impeachment inquiry at a press conference in the White House. Video: The White House

 

US president Donald Trump lashed out at Democrats for launching an impeachment inquiry at a testy news conference in Washington as House Democrats ratcheted-up pressure on the White House to release information to Congress.

Speaking alongside visiting Finish president Sauli Niinisto in the White House, Mr Trump dismissed the investigation as a “hoax” and a “fraudulent crime on the American people”. He described the phone call he had with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy which sparked the impeachment inquiry as a “great call”.

He also seized on a New York Times report on Wednesday that claimed the whistleblower at the centre of the inquiry had first approached the House Intelligence Committee led by congressman Adam Schiff with the information he subsequently passed on to the inspector general of the intelligence community .

“It shows that Schiff is a fraud,” Mr Trump said when asked about the report at the news conference. “The whole thing is a scam. I think it is a scandal that he knew before… I think he probably helped write it.”

Earlier, during a meeting in the Oval Office with Mr Niinisto, Trump had lashed out at the chair of the intelligence committee who has become the de facto head of the investigation. “We don’t call him Shifty Schiff for nothing,” he said. “He should resign from office in disgrace and frankly they should look at him for treason.” Mr Schiff was a “low-life”, he added.

Whistleblower

Mr Trump also took aim at the whistleblower who raised a red flag about the disputed phonecall.

“The whistleblower was so dishonest. The whistleblower said terrible things about the call. But then I found out he was second hand and third hand...When the American people find out what happened, it’s going to be a great day.”

He also lambasted the White House official who was the source for the anonymous whistleblower’s complaint. “That person is a spy,” he said. Former vice-president Joe Biden and his son Hunter were also described as “corrupt” by Mr Trump. “Biden’s son is corrupt, and Biden is corrupt,” the president said. Mr Trump requested his Ukrainian counterpart to investigate Mr Biden and his son during his July 25th phonecall, a request that prompted the current impeachment inquiry.

Wednesday’s verbal attacks by the president unfolded as Democrats warned that they would subpoena the White House to provide documents to relevant committees by Friday if the administration did not comply. “I do not take this step lightly,” said Elijah Cummings, head of the House Oversight committee, noting that the White House had ignored requests sent by several congressional committees.

Banned

The battle between the Democratically-controlled House and the Trump administration continued as Kurt Volker, the special representative for Ukraine until his resignation last Friday, prepared to testify before Congress on Thursday (this week). Mr Volker, along with former US ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, were two of five current and former state department officials effectively banned by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo from providing depositions to Congress. But the two officials indicated they would appear, with Ms Yovanovitch due to brief congress members on October 11th. Both officials are believed to have information pertaining to the Trump administration’s contacts with Ukrainian officials.

Mr Pompeo also said during a visit to Rome that he had been on the disputed phone call between Mr Trump and Mr Zelenskiy, confirming media reports.