The lead Democratic impeachment manager claimed Wednesday that President Donald Trump had “bragged” about withholding materials from Congress as lawmakers weigh removing him from office — partly because they allege he’s obstructing their investigations.
Rep. Adam Schiff, the House Intelligence Committee chairman, was responding to comments Trump made during a news conference in Switzerland.
“We’re doing very well. I got to watch enough,” Trump said before departing Davos, where he was attending the World Economic Forum. “I thought our team did a very good job, but honestly, we have all the material. They don’t have the material.”
Schiff and other Democrats interpreted the comment as a boast about keeping information that might be relevant to the case from lawmakers.
Trump “bragged that he thought things were going well because they had all the materials,” he said ahead of the start of Wednesday’s impeachment trial proceedings. “Well, indeed they do have the material — hidden from the American people. That is nothing to brag about.”
Before Schiff spoke, Rep. Val Demings, a fellow impeachment manager, had tweeted: “The second article of impeachment was for obstruction of Congress: covering up witnesses and documents from the American people. This morning the President not only confessed to it, he bragged about it.”
One of the articles of impeachment the House approved last year was obstruction of Congress, based partly on the administration’s refusal to provide documents or allow certain officials to testify.
In a legal brief filed before the trial began in earnest, the President’s legal team argued that charge could set a dangerous precedent and undermine the separation of powers outlined in the Constitution.
Democrats have cried foul, and on Tuesday proposed a series of amendments to the impeachment trial rules that would allow for expanding the evidence that could be considered. They were rejected along party lines.
The White House declined to clarify Trump’s remarks. But elsewhere in the news conference, Trump expressed hesitancy at certain administration officials — including former national security adviser John Bolton — from testifying.
“The problem with John is that it’s a national security problem,” he said. “I call it national security — for national security reasons — executive privilege, they say. So John would certainly fit into that.”