WASHINGTON – Basically declaring war on congressional investigations of himself, President Donald Trump vowed Wednesday to somehow fight impeachment in the Supreme Court, though he did not explain how he might do that.
In a series of morning tweets, Trump criticized the Democratic-run House for pursuing aspects of last week's report by special counsel Robert Mueller on Russian interference in the 2016 election — and Trump's possible attempts to obstruct the investigation.
"The Mueller Report, despite being written by Angry Democrats and Trump Haters, and with unlimited money behind it ($35,000,000), didn’t lay a glove on me. I DID NOTHING WRONG," Trump said.
The president added that "if the partisan Dems ever tried to Impeach, I would first head to the U.S. Supreme Court." Trump said "Not only are there no 'High Crimes and Misdemeanors,' there are no Crimes by me at all," and he continued to blame the investigation on Democrats, including his 2016 opponent Hillary Clinton.
The release of Mueller’s report prompted outrage among Democrats and stirred a debate within the party over whether to consider articles of impeachment against Trump. The 448-page report detailed multiple contacts between Trump campaign associates and Russian operatives but said there was not evidence that it amounted to a criminal conspiracy. The report documented a series of actions by Trump to derail the special counsel's investigation, although it did not reach a conclusion on whether he illegally sought to obstruct justice.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic leaders sought to tamp down talk of impeaching Trump in the run-up to the Mueller report's release. They argued that voters want to see the party focus more on issues like healthcare and jobs that directly affect them.
But in the days since a redacted version of the Mueller report was made public, a growing number of Democrats have raised the possibility of impeachment. Pelosi has said the House will focus on fact finding first and has left impeachment on the table if the facts lead there.
Democrats said Trump is fearful of what Congress might find out about his conduct. Attorneys noted that impeachment is a political process in the domain of Congress, and the courts probably would not entertainment a challenge to it.
"The Mueller report paints a picture of Trump constantly told by aides, lawyers, and other officials that much of what he did was wrong," tweeted Renato Mariotti, a former federal prosecutor. "As this tweet makes clear, he has learned nothing."
Throughout the morning, Trump tweeted complaints about a series of congressional investigations that could be the basis for an impeachment drive. "Congress has no time to legislate," Trump said at one point, "they only want to continue the Witch Hunt, which I have already won."
It's hard to imagine what kind of lawsuit Trump might file over impeachment, especially one that heads straight for the Supreme Court – but the administration and Congress are engaged in a number of legal battles over House investigations that could lead to impeachment, but may first head to the high court. They include the Mueller report, Trump's taxes and security clearances.
Trump aides are expected to try to block congressional testimony by former White House Counsel Don McGahn, a key figure in Mueller's investigation.
McGahn spoke to Mueller's team about Trump's attempts to have the special counsel removed from his post, efforts that prosecutors said could amount to obstruction of justice. The House Judiciary Committee has subpoenaed McGahn.
The White House may seek to block McGahn's testimony to Congress by asserting executive privilege over his conversations with the president.
Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said the moment for executive privilege has passed. He describes the White House's plan as "one more act of obstruction by an administration desperate to prevent the public from talking about the President’s behavior."
The Treasury Department has delayed until at least May 6 a decision on whether to respond to a House committee's request for copies of Trump's tax records – though few people expect the administration to comply with the request.
In a letter to Rep. Richard E. Neal, D-Mass., chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said he "cannot act upon your request unless and until it is determined to be consistent with law.”
Neal said that he plans "to consult with counsel about my next steps," and that issue could also wind up in court, perhaps the Supreme Court.
The White House instructed former personnel security director Carl Kline not to appear before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, which is investigating problems with security clearances granted to some officials at the White House. The investigation also includes the question of whether Trump intervened to get a clearance for son-in-law Jared Kushner.