President Donald Trump raged against Democrats and the House impeachment inquiry during his campaign rally Thursday in Dallas, arguing that the Democratic Party, including 2020 presidential rival Joe Biden, had “betrayed our country.”
“At stake in this fight is the survival of American democracy itself. Don’t kid yourself,” Trump, largely going off-script, told supporters at American Airlines Arena. “They are destroying this country, but we will never let it happen, not even close. For three straight years, radical Democrats have been trying to overthrow the results of a great, great election.”
The president has been on the defense in recent weeks as a parade of former administration officials have spoken to House investigators, shedding new light on Trump’s demands that Ukraine investigate political rival Biden and his son. Lawmakers have fired off a slate of subpoenas to interview current and former diplomats and administration officials in recent weeks, and, despite the White House’s efforts to keep them from testifying, they have been talking at length.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) opened the formal impeachment inquiry last month after a whistleblower complaint about Trump’s July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. The White House released a reconstruction of the conversation, during which Trump repeatedly asked his counterpart to investigate the Bidens. Hunter Biden had served on the board of a Ukrainian energy company for five years. The call came shortly after Trump ordered his aides to put on hold nearly $400 million in military funding that had been appropriated for Ukraine, and critics have claimed the call reflected a clear demand for a quid pro quo for political help.
In Texas, Trump repeated a slate of conspiracy theories featuring the Bidens, accusing the father and son of engaging in impropriety while Joe Biden was vice president. Neither has been accused of any wrongdoing, and Hunter Biden said earlier this month he did nothing “improper.”
But despite Trump’s assertions, the drama around his call with Ukraine deepened Thursday within his own orbit as acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney held an extraordinary press conference in which he confirmed that Trump ordered the military aid to be withheld unless Zelensky agreed to help in the U.S. election.
Mulvaney’s remarks to the press prompted a maelstrom within the White House and undercut Trump’s own denials, but Mulvaney walked them back just hours later. He placed blame on the media for misconstruing his comments “to advance a biased and political witch hunt against President Trump” and said there was “absolutely no quid pro quo” demanded by the White House.
Trump echoed that in Dallas before going on a tear against Pelosi and the anonymous whistleblower, calling the House speaker “crazy” and “nuts.” The criticism came a day after Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said the president insulted Pelosi during a meeting at the White House, referring to her as a “third-grade politician.” Pelosi fired back that Trump had a “meltdown” during the discussion.
“I really don’t believe anymore that they love our country. I don’t believe it. Crazy Nancy. That crazy Nancy, she is crazy,” Trump said. “They come after me, but what they’re really doing is they’re coming after the Republican Party and what they’re really, really doing is they’re coming after and fighting you, and we never lose.”
The president also demanded once again to face his whistleblower and lobbed criticism at the intelligence community inspector general, Michael Atkinson, who first received the complaint and deemed it urgent and credible.
“What about the whistleblower? The whistleblower got it all wrong,” Trump, appearing enraged, said. “Who’s the whistleblower? We have to know. Is the whistleblower the spy?”