Jan 22, 2020

Trump says national security concerns preempt impeachment witnesses

President Trump said Wednesday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, that he'd "rather go the long way" with his Senate impeachment trial and have former national security adviser John Bolton testify — but argued that national security concerns preempt it.

"If you think about it, John, he knows some of my thoughts. He knows what I think about leaders, what happens if he reveals what I think about a certain leader and it's not very positive and then I have to deal on behalf of the country, it's going to be very hard, going to make the job very hard." 

The big picture: Trump added that he'd like to see other top administration officials testify, but claimed that the same national security concerns apply.

  • "Mick Mulvaney is probably around here someplace. I’d love to have Mick go, but he really expressed himself well when he did a Chris Wallace interview ... I’d love to have Mike Pompeo testify, but again, that’s a national security problem ... I’d love to have Rick Perry. Rick Perry has asked me, 'I’d love to testify. Please let me testify.' Because he knows this is all a hoax."

The state of play: Trump also told the press conference that he "would love to go" to the impeachment trial himself.

  • "I'd sit right in the front row and stare in their corrupt faces. I'd love to do it. ... Don't keep talking because you may convince me to do it."
  • The president admitted that one of his top defense lawyers, White House counsel Pat Cipollone, "might have a problem" if he decided to attend.

Worth noting: The Trump administration simply blocked the officials the president discussed today from participating in the House's impeachment inquiry — without citing executive privilege or national security concerns.

  • That strategy resulted in an obstruction of Congress article of impeachment against Trump.

What's next: The Democratic House managers in the trial will kick off their opening arguments on Wednesday afternoon — with 24 hours spread across three days.

Go deeper: The daily highlights from Trump's Senate impeachment trial

Go deeper

Trump hits back at Mattis: "I gave him a new life"

President Trump speaks at the White House. Photo: Doug Mills - Pool/Getty Images

President Trump unloaded on his former defense secretary via Twitter on Wednesday, hours after James Mattis condemned him for making a "mockery of our Constitution" in his response to mass protests in the wake of George Floyd's killing.

What he's saying: "Probably the only thing Barack Obama & I have in common is that we both had the honor of firing Jim Mattis, the world’s most overrated General. I asked for his letter of resignation, & felt great about it. His nickname was 'Chaos', which I didn’t like, & changed it to 'Mad Dog'"

Obama praises young protesters, urges mayors to pursue police reforms

Former President Barack Obama called on all mayors to review their use-of-force policies and commit to policing reform in a virtual town hall Wednesday hosted by the Obama Foundation's My Brothers Keepers Alliance.

Why it matters: Obama has addressed the killing of George Floyd and the nationwide protests that followed on social media and in a Medium post, but this was his first time speaking about the past week's events on camera. His voice will add weight to the growing pressure on local, state and federal officials to pursue policing reforms.

James Mattis condemns Trump as a threat to the Constitution

Mattis on Fox in Septemnber 2019 in New York City. Photo: Steven Ferdman/Getty Images

Former Secretary of Defense James Mattis condemned President Trump for making a "mockery of our Constitution" in a statement to The Atlantic on Wednesday, saying he was "appalled" at the president's response to mass protests in the wake of George Floyd's killing.

Why it matters: Trump’s former defense secretary had refrained from publicly criticizing his former boss since resigning in 2018.