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Trump says Democrats are 'getting killed in their own districts' over impeachment

CQ-Roll Call — By John T. Bennett CQ-Roll Call

Dec. 02-- WASHINGTON-Accusing House Democrats of trying to humiliate him while on foreign soil, President Donald Trump predicted voters will punish the party in November for their impeachment inquiry.

"They're getting killed in their own districts," Trump said Monday morning as he left the White House for a two-day NATO summit in London. "I think it's going to be a tremendous boon for Republicans. Republicans have never, ever been so committed as they are right now, and so united. It's really a great thing in some ways."

The comment shows anew how the president views most matters through a prism related to his reelection chances. But his assessment of the inquiry was not all upbeat.

"But in other ways, it's a disgrace," a black umbrella-toting president said on another rainy day in Washington. "It's a disgrace to our country."

Democrats, however, say the probe is anything but. They contend Trump abused his office by requesting Ukraine's new president announce investigations of Joe and Hunter Biden, as well as the Democratic National Committee, in exchange for a military aid package and a White House meeting.

The president lashed out at them, without naming any, as raindrops fell on the South Lawn and he again yelled over Marine One's idling engines.

"The radical left Democrats ... decided, this was set up a year ago, decided this was the right time," he said Monday, saying a NATO summit is among the "most important" trips a U.S. president makes annually. "It will never end because they will do what they want to do."

Polls suggest the president has a point and they are the source of confidence among White House aides that Democrats have taken a major political gamble with the impeachment investigation. Multiple surveys show support for Trump's impeachment and removal has plateaued at a level far short of what would be needed to convince GOP House members and senators to vote with Democrats to rebuke and possibly oust him from office.

So far, not a single Republican lawmaker has announced an intention to break ranks.

Meantime, the president was asked why he is not sending lawyers to Judiciary's first hearing, which features legal experts and no so-called "fact witnesses." He responded by saying he opted against doing so because the probe is a "hoax" and a "disgrace."

Trump's comment came a day after White House counsel Pat Cipollone informed lawmakers that his boss had decided to skip Wednesday's hearing.

"It is too late to cure the profound procedural deficiencies that have tainted this entire inquiry," Cipollone wrote in a letter responding to Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler's invitation for Trump to send attorneys to the hearing. "We cannot fairly be expected to participate in a hearing while the witnesses are yet to be named and while it remains unclear whether the Judiciary Committee will afford the president a fair process through additional hearings."

As the president was departing for the NATO summit, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was praising the alliance during a visit with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., at the University of Louisville.

"We're actually celebrating 70 years of NATO," Pompeo said. "That's a pretty cool deal. This has been an important source for good and freedom all throughout the world for all the post-war period now."

However, Pompeo said the trip to London wouldn't all be about celebrating. He highlighted Trump's push to get more defense and security spending by NATO members, seeking adherence to a commitment to spend 2% of GDP.

"Some of them have lived up to that, some of them are struggling to find a way to do so," Pompeo said. "We're going to go encourage them to do that, and do it more quickly."

"The good news is, since President Trump took office about $130 billion more has been spent by those countries in support of their own security and the security of the trans-Atlantic alliance," Pompeo said.

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(Niels Lesniewski contributed to this report.)

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