Former vice president Joe Biden made his most direct call for President Donald Trump's impeachment on Wednesday, hours after Trump said the Democratic-led inquiry should be terminated "for the good of the Country," claiming it was tainted with political bias.
"President Trump has indicted himself by obstructing justice, refusing to comply with a congressional inquiry . . . he's already convicted himself," Biden said during a fiery address in New Hampshire.
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The comments from the Democratic presidential hopeful came a day after the White House said in a scathing eight-page letter that it would not cooperate with the inquiry into the Ukraine scandal on the grounds that it lacked merit.
The letter was the latest escalation in a standoff with Congress, where Democrats are vowing to hold Trump accountable for pressing Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Biden and his son at a time when US military aid to Ukraine had been suspended.
Earlier Wednesday, Trump called for ending the Democratic-led impeachment inquiry "for the good of the Country," claiming it was tainted with political bias, and said the whistleblower at the heart of the complaint should be "exposed and properly questioned."
Support for impeaching Trump and removing him from office has ranged from 43 per cent to 48 per cent in independent national polls released this week. But in an afternoon tweet, Trump significantly understated the public support for his impeachment found in recent polling.
"Only 25 per cent want the President Impeached, which is pretty low considering the volume of Fake News coverage, but pretty high considering the fact that I did NOTHING wrong," Trump tweeted. "It is all just a continuation of the greatest Scam and Witch Hunt in the history of our Country!"
Democrats, who return to Washington next week from a two-week recess, are expected to talk about impeachment during a Friday afternoon conference call.
In a statement Wednesday, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said that Trump had "betrayed our nation." Hoyer's assessment came in a statement in response to the White House letter.
"The letter sent by the White House yesterday is the latest example of this Administration's efforts to stonewall an investigation into the President's abuse of power and obstruct justice," Hoyer said. "The evidence shows that the President betrayed our nation by encouraging foreign interference in our election, undermining our democracy and national security."
Hoyer also urged House Republicans to work with Democrats on the impeachment inquiry.
"This is not an issue of party or politics - it is about our Constitution, the rule of law, and the security of our nation," Hoyer said. "House Democrats will continue to pursue this inquiry with the seriousness and solemnity it deserves."
Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said Wednesday that he is seeking Republican signatures for a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., that contends that Trump's July call with Zelensky does not amount to an impeachable offense.
Graham made his comments during an appearance on Fox News in which he called the House impeachment inquiry "a star-chamber process."
Graham also elaborated on his earlier invitation to have Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, testify in front of his Senate panel.
"He's claiming to have a lot of evidence about corruption in the Ukraine that ties back to the Democrats that's apart from what the House is looking at," Graham said. "I think Rudy's got a story to tell. I want him to tell it in my committee."
If Trump is impeached by the Democratic-led House, a trial would be held in the Republican-led Senate to determine whether to remove him from office. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., criticised the House inquiry Tuesday night, saying it has "fallen far short" on fairness.
"Overturning the results of an American election requires the highest level of fairness and due process, as it strikes at the core of our democratic process," McConnell tweeted. "So far, the House has fallen far short by failing to follow the same basic procedures that it has followed for every other President in our history."