Trump answers media questions in the White House as impeachment trial gets underway.
Calling the impeachment trial he’s facing “a hoax” and saying he believes the Senate will quickly wrap up the matter, Trump said he plans to attend the World Economic Forum conference in Davos, Switzerland.
“I’m going to be going to Davos,” Trump said following a ceremony honoring Religious Freedom Day. “I’ll be meeting the biggest business leaders.”
There has been widespread speculation that the president might opt to stay in Washington, D.C., as the Senate opens the impeachment trial. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., officially accepted the articles of impeachment brought against Trump — signed Wednesday by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. — on Thursday afternoon. Shortly after, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts swore in members of the Senate for the trial.
The trial will begin just over a month after the House impeached Trump alleging he abused his presidential power by pressuring Ukraine to investigate Democratic rival Joe Biden, using military aid to the country as leverage. Trump was also charged with obstructing Congress’ ensuing probe.
Trump on Thursday echoed his legal team’s thinking that the trial will be short and that he will be acquitted easily by the Republican-held Senate.
“I think it should go very quickly,” Trump said. “It’s a hoax, it’s a complete hoax.”
A senior administration official told Fox News on Wednesday that the White House expects the trial to last two weeks. That’s far shorter than the last presidential impeachment trial, of Bill Clinton in 1999, or the first one of Andrew Johnson in 1868.
During his comments, Trump also bemoaned that the impeachment coverage by the media was overshadowing the Senate overwhelmingly approving a new North American trade agreement — a major policy coup for his administration as it readies for the trial.
The United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement (USMCA), which now heads to Trump’s desk for his signature, will replace the 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement, known as NAFTA, which tore down most trade barriers and triggered a surge in trade. Trump and other critics, however, have blamed that pact for encouraging U.S. companies to move their manufacturing plants south of the border to take advantage of low-wage Mexican laborers.
Passage of the trade bill came one day after Trump signed a new trade agreement with China, easing trade tensions between the economic powers.
“Today, the Senate passed the USMCA to take the place of NAFTA and it will probably be second to this witch hunt hoax,” Trump said. “I’ve got to go through a phony hoax.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.