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Impeachment shadows Trump on NATO trip

LONDON — Crying foul over timing, President Donald Trump on Monday accused Democrats of scheduling this week’s impeachment hearing to undercut him during his trip abroad for a NATO leaders’ meeting playing out at a crucial moment for the 70-year-old military alliance.

Trump, who arrived in London late Monday for two days of meetings, called the trip “one of the most important journeys that we make as president” before departing Washington and noted Democrats had long known about the meeting.

The president lashed out at Democrats again soon after arriving in the U.K. He said on Twitter that he had read the Republican report designed to counter Democrats’ impeachment case on his flight. The report, which was obtained by The Associated Press, called Trump’s hesitation to provide military aid to Ukraine “entirely prudent.”

“Prior to landing I read the Republicans Report on the Impeachment Hoax. Great job! Radical Left has NO CASE. Read the Transcripts,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “Shouldn’t even be allowed. Can we go to Supreme Court to stop?”

It was not immediately clear under what legal grounds Trump was calling for the high court’s involvement.

Trump’s trip comes amid ongoing quarrels over defense spending by NATO allies and widespread anxiety over the president’s commitment to the alliance.

The president said his trip would be focused on “fighting for the American people.” But in the more than two months that the impeachment inquiry has been underway, he has constantly drifted back to what he frames as the Democrats’ unfair effort to overturn the results of his 2016 election.

The House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing Wednesday on the constitutional grounds for impeachment before Trump wraps up at the NATO meeting.

Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, White House counsel Pat Cipollone and presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway all complained about the timing, with Pompeo saying the hearings would “distract America’s president from his important mission overseas.”

Trump insists he’s solely focused on scoring domestic and foreign policy wins, including revamping NATO so that allies spend more on defense. But he’s often appeared consumed by the day-to-day battle against impeachment.

In recent days he’s repeatedly lashed out about the “impeachment hoax” and the “scam” inquiry, even delving into impeachment at a ceremony to celebrate NCAA athletes and at last week’s annual Turkey pardon.

White House aides say the summit offers Trump an opportunity to counter the impeachment narrative in Washington and demonstrate to voters that he’s keeping a business-as-usual approach while Democrats concentrate on the probe.

But soon after Air Force One departed, Trump took to Twitter to slam “Do Nothing Democrats” for scheduling the hearing during the NATO meeting as “Not nice!”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in Madrid for a U.N. conference on climate change, declined to comment about the impeachment inquiry, saying, “When we travel abroad, we don’t talk about the president in a negative way. We save that for home.”

Trump is only the fourth U.S. president in history to face an impeachment inquiry. The gravity of impeachment is likely to play into the calculus of how other global leaders engage the president going forward, in the view of some analysts.

The NATO leaders meeting is a complicated backdrop for Trump to make his first extended overseas visit –he made a quick Thanksgiving visit to U.S. troops in Afghanistan — since Democrats launched the impeachment inquiry.