Hours before hundreds of thousands of Americans were set to rally at more than 600 protests nationwide, demanding the U.S. House vote to impeach President Donald Trump, the president sent a six-page missive to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi repeating his call for impeachment proceedings to be halted.
The letter—described as “unhinged” by multiple political observers—was sent the day before the Democratic-led House is expected to vote in favor of impeaching Trump, triggering a trial in the Senate.
“You are the ones interfering in America’s election,” Trump wrote of the Democrats. “You are the ones subverting America’s Democracy. You are the ones Obstructing Justice. You are the ones bringing pain and suffering to our Republic for your own selfish personal, political, and partisan gain.”
The president is deranged. https://t.co/eDqIGQK4AP
— Brian Beutler (@brianbeutler) December 17, 2019
In the letter, the president compared the impeachment proceedings over his alleged attempt to bribe the Ukrainian president to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden to “the Salem witch trials,” the 17th century prosecutions in which 20 men and women were executed.
“This letter shows just how deranged and unhinged Donald Trump is,” Sean Eldridge, founder of Stand Up America, said in a statement. “It could not be more clear that Trump is a clear and present danger to our democracy—and that he must be impeached and removed. That’s why hundreds of thousands of Americans are taking to the streets tonight to demand Congress remove him from office.”
The president’s letter echoed familiar refrains which were heard from many Republican members of Congress during the recent impeachment hearings before the House Intelligence and Judiciary Committees. Trump claimed that Democrats including Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) have expressed a desire to impeach Trump for months, that the Democratic Party has not accepted the results of the 2016 election, and that the party is “desperate to distract” from the successes of his administration, including the often-mentioned “lowest-ever unemployment [rate] for African Americans, Hispanic Americans and Asian Americans.”
A number of Democrats have indeed pushed for impeachment since the beginning of Trump’s term, citing the president’s racism, his alleged emoluments violations, and obstruction of justice—but party leaders did not pursue charges against Trump until a whistleblower reported his attempts to pressure Ukraine to investigate Biden in September.
In the letter, the president also claimed he had not been afforded due process of law.
“I have been denied the most basic fundamental rights afforded by the Constitution, including the right to present evidence, to have my own counsel present, to confront accusers, and to call and cross-examine witnesses,” Trump wrote.
In fact, as Politico reported, “The White House has twice been offered the chance to have lawyers present in different phases of public hearings for the inquiry and declined both opportunities. Instead, Trump’s legal team has begun to coordinate with members of the Republican-led Senate for an upcoming trial.”
On social media, critics denounced the letter as a “meltdown.”
A couple times in my life, I’ve had a meltdown, typed out an angry e-mail, deleted it, and felt better for venting.
Here’s what that would’ve looked like if I was President, didn’t delete it, and sent it to all of Congress (and was a horrible writer). https://t.co/9yT656r9UL
— Elie Honig (@eliehonig) December 17, 2019
Trump’s letter to Pelosi is like his tweets put to letterhead. He makes his regular false claims (the Electoral College result;
cost of the Mueller probe; energy production; etc.), uses exclamation marks, and accuses Pelosi of lying about praying for him. https://t.co/okAZgOw2xc
— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) December 17, 2019
“Before they vote tomorrow, every single member of Congress should read this letter alongside their oath of office and decide whether they believe this lawless president can be allowed to remain in office,” said Eldridge. “History is watching.”
Some also slammed media outlets for their framing of Trump’s words as “scathing” and “fiery”—writing that such descriptors gave the president too much credit for the arguments presented in the letter.
Dear media, this isn’t a “scathing” letter from Trump to Pelosi. It’s the ravings of delusional, paranoid f**kwad. Please label as such. pic.twitter.com/b8gezOLuUT
— SeanKentComedy (@seankent) December 17, 2019
Repeat after me: the letter is not “fiery.” It’s not “sharply worded.” It’s batshit.
— Laura Bassett (@LEBassett) December 17, 2019
“Repeat after me: the letter is not ‘fiery.’ It’s not ‘sharply worded,’” wrote journalist Laura Bassett. “It’s batshit.”