Donald Trump sent a furious letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, as lawmakers prepared to vote on impeaching the president. Despite his tone, Trump seemed resigned to the vote's likely approval.
In a 6-page, rambling letter sent to Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday, US President Donald Trump angrily condemned the impeachment proceedings against him, ahead of a vote in the House of Representatives expected on Wednesday.
Drawing on past rhetoric, Trump classified the move as a "crusade" against him and likened the inquiry to the Salem Witch Trials. In the 17th century, the American city of Salem, Massachusetts went through a period of mass hysteria that resulted in the trial and execution of dozens of people on charges related to witchcraft.
The US president called the impeachment process a "hoax" rooted in Democrats' refusal to accept his election.
"You are the ones bringing pain and suffering to our Republic for your own selfish, personal political and partisan gain," Trump wrote.
He also defended the "absolutely perfect" phone call with the Ukrainian president that lies at the center of the impeachment probe and again attempted to justify investigations into Democratic presidential rival Joe Biden.
Message for the American people
Trump seemed to direct his message to the general American public more than at Pelosi and House Democrats.
Despite the angry tone, the president seemed resigned to the likelihood that the vote for impeachment would pass in the House. If the process is completed, Trump would be the third US president to be impeached.
Pelosi and House Democrats did not immediately respond to the letter.
In the lead-up to the vote, demonstrations in favor of impeachment took place around the US on Tuesday evening.
Liberal organizations like MoveOn.org and Indivisible organized hundreds of gatherings across the country, with protesters calling for the president to be removed from office.
A test for US politics
On Tuesday, lawmakers were engaged in fierce deliberations over the rules for the historic impeachment debate likely to get underway in the House on Wednesday.
The House Rules Committee will provide the framework for the vote, which could take place as early as Wednesday.
No House Republicans are expected to vote in favor of impeachment, but Democrats appear to have enough votes to win the simple majority necessary to push the trial into the Republican-held Senate.
From there, a two-thirds majority would be required to remove Trump from the office of the president. The Republican majority is likely to hand Trump an acquittal in that trial, scheduled for January.
kp/se (AP, dpa)