President Donald Trump is bypassing the news media as he plans a “fireside chat” with the American people. Trump said he will read the transcript of the Ukraine phone call.
The call, which included Trump asking Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to look into his country’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, led to House Democrats launching an impeachment inquiry against Trump. The House approved a resolution Thursday to continue the inquiry.
“This is over a phone call that is a good call,” Trump told the Washington Examiner. “At some point, I’m going to sit down, perhaps as a fireside chat on live television, and I will read the transcript of the call, because people have to hear it. When you read it, it’s a straight call.”
President Franklin D. Roosevelt conducted a series of addresses to the nation in the 1930s over the radio that were known as fireside chats.
Roosevelt was trying to build up support for his New Deal policies and other issues.
“He used these opportunities to explain his hopes and ideas for the country, while inviting the citizenry to ‘tell me your troubles,’” according to the National Endowment for the Humanities. “The combination of the novelty and intimacy of radio with the believability of his message created a powerful force that enabled him to pass a sweeping set of legislation in the first 100 days of his presidency and then go on to many other accomplishments in the following twelve years.”
Trump has repeatedly said the call with Zelensky was “perfect” and that he did nothing wrong. Democrats say Trump’s request for Zelensky to look into what former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, did in Ukraine in the past amounts to a request to dig up dirt on a political rival because the elder Biden is vying for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.
Biden said last year that in 2016 he threatened to withhold $1 billion in aid from Ukraine unless then-President Petro Poroshenko ousted Viktor Shokin, a prosecutor probing the energy firm Burisma.
Hunter Biden sat on the board of Burisma from 2014 to 2018, making tens of thousands of dollars a month.
Both Bidens have denied wrongdoing.
Shokin was ousted and the probe was eventually closed without any charges being filed. Zelensky’s new top prosecutor said in October that he’s reviewing cases that were previously investigated, including the probe into Burisma.
“There are 15 cases where Zlochevsky, Biden, Kurchenko, and other people and companies could be involved or could be targets for investigation,” Ruslan Ryaboshapka said. “We are now looking again at all cases that were closed or broken up or were investigated earlier to make a decision to reconsider those instances where illegal procedural decisions were made.”
Trump on Thursday also refused to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry, saying doing so would be “setting a terrible precedent for other presidents.”
He also expressed pleasure with the testimony of Timothy Morrison, an outgoing White House official who said there was nothing illegal in the phone call. “This was going to be their star witness,” Trump said of House Democrats.
“Everybody knows I did nothing wrong,” Trump added. “Bill Clinton did things wrong; Richard Nixon did things wrong. I won’t go back to [Andrew] Johnson because that was a little before my time,” he said. “But they did things wrong. I did nothing wrong.”