US President Donald Trump on Monday lashed out at Democrats, saying it was “sad” they were focused on impeaching him at a time when he is “so busy”, an apparent reference to dealing with fallout from his decision to kill Iranian General Qassem Soleimani.
“The great Scam continues,” Trump said in a morning tweet. “To be spending time on this political Hoax at this moment in our history, when I am so busy, is sad!”
Trump demanded that his potential impeachment trial in the Senate end quickly, accusing House Democrats of a “con game” to help their chances during the 2020 election contest.
“The Impeachment Hoax, just a continuation of the Witch Hunt which started even before I won the Election, must end quickly,” Trump tweeted.
Congressional Republicans demanded that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, send the two articles of impeachment approved by the House to the Senate to allow a trial to begin in the chamber. Pelosi has been holding on to the articles as Democrats seek guarantees about the scope of a Senate trial.
Threats of revenge from Iran for the killing of Soleimani by the US on Jan 3 in Baghdad by a drone strike continued on Monday.
Soleimani’s successor as the commander of the Quds Force, the foreign expeditionary arm of the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, swore revenge during the funeral for the general.
“God the almighty has promised to get his revenge, and God is the main avenger,” said General Esmail Ghaani.
In the Iranian capital of Teheran, hundreds of thousands of people attended Soleimani’s funeral. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, wept as he prayed over Soleimani’s coffin. Khamenei had a close relationship with the general, who was widely considered to be the second-most powerful man in Iran.
Also Monday, US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said there are no plans to pull troops from Iraq following media reports of a US military letter informing Iraqi officials about repositioning troops in preparation for leaving the country.
American officials said Soleimani was killed because he had ordered assaults on Americans in Iraq and Syria and was planning a wave of imminent attacks. Trump has said that the killing of Soleimani was aimed at preventing war.
On Monday, Trump tweeted that “IRAN WILL NEVER HAVE A NUCLEAR WEAPON!”
Trump’s tweet came after Iran said Sunday that it is suspending its commitments to the nuclear deal it struck with world powers in 2015.
Geng Shuang, a spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said Monday at a daily news briefing in Beijing that there was still hope for the nuclear deal. He noted that Teheran had said it would continue to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency, which monitors Iranian activities under the agreement, and that it could return to the pact under the right conditions.
“We believe that although Iran has been compelled to reduce adherence owing to external factors, it has also demonstrated restraint,” Geng said.
Lawmakers in Iraq voted on Sunday to require the government to end the presence of American troops in the country after Trump ordered the killing in Iraq.
But on Monday, Iraq Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, after speaking with President Emmanuel Macron of France by phone, suggested on Twitter that he was leaving the door open to something less than a complete departure, according to The New York Times. He said he had agreed with Macron to “continue to discuss this delicate issue”.
In Washington, a senior administration official told politico.com that the White House is working to schedule a briefing on Wednesday for members of Congress on the killing of Soleimani.
With a few exceptions, most members of Congress were not told of Trump’s decision to hit Soleimani with a drone missile strike on his convoy at Baghdad’s International Airport.
On Saturday, the White House notified Congress of Trump’s decision as required by the 1973 War Powers Act, although its classified contents were immediately questioned by Democratic leaders.
On Monday morning, Senate Foreign Relations Committee ranking member Robert Menendez of New Jersey and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer of New York called for the Trump administration to immediately declassify the notification, and echoed Pelosi’s concerns about its contents being kept from the public.
The White House hasn’t yet made any decisions on declassifying any of the notification.
The House is expected to vote later this week on a resolution invoking the War Powers Act that would curtail the president’s ability to authorize a strike against Iran without Congress’s approval.
On impeachment, Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, one of Trump’s strongest allies in Congress, criticized House Democrats for being “so weak and so pathetic” for holding on to the articles of impeachment.
He said he would push for a change of rules in the Senate to allow for the trial to move forward immediately if the upper chamber doesn’t receive the articles by the end of the week.
Former White House national security adviser John Bolton said Monday he is willing to testify if subpoenaed in the Senate’s impeachment trial. According to his lawyer, Bolton has firsthand knowledge of many of the events that led to the House’s impeachment of Trump over his dealings with Ukraine.