For most of the impeachment inquiry, President Donald Trump has passed on opportunities to mount a formal defense of his conduct. Initially, the White House complained that House Democrats were not affording him chances to defend himself. Once they did, he eschewed them, declining to participate in House Judiciary hearings, and refusing to allow testimony from witnesses who (his allies claimed) might vindicate him.
Trump hasn’t been silent, of course—he’s railed against the inquiry publicly, and complained loudly in his somehow ever more prolific tweets. Today, however, on the eve of a vote that’s almost certain to impeach him, the president directly involved himself in a way he hasn’t since early October—when his White House counsel vowed that the administration would not cooperate—in the form of a remarkable letter.
The six-page letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is a wild ride. The president veers among incoherent semantic lament (“You have cheapened the importance of the very ugly word, impeachment!”), bald-faced lies (about former Vice President Joe Biden’s actions in Ukraine), self-righteous whining (“You did not recant. You did not ask to be forgiven. You showed no remorse, no capacity for self-reflection”), and atrocious misrepresentation of history (“More due process was afforded to those accused in the Salem Witch Trials”).