President Donald Trump talks to reporters before departing the White House, November 1.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
President Donald Trump talks to reporters before departing the White House, November 1.
Now playing
04:36
Was there a quid pro quo? Conway says she doesn't know
President Joe Biden speaks about distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, in the East Room of the White House, Monday, May 17, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Evan Vucci/AP
President Joe Biden speaks about distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, in the East Room of the White House, Monday, May 17, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Now playing
02:12
Biden announces US will share more vaccines globally
Stephen Richer EBOF 05172021
CNN
Stephen Richer EBOF 05172021
Now playing
04:28
'Exasperated': GOP Arizona election official reacts to Trump's election lie
The U.S. Supreme Court on April 29, 2021 in Washington, DC.
Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images
The U.S. Supreme Court on April 29, 2021 in Washington, DC.
Now playing
02:20
Supreme Court to take up case next term that could limit Roe v. Wade
Getty Images
Now playing
00:50
Ex-federal prosecutor: This is 'potentially devastating' for Gaetz
Now playing
03:17
Avlon calls out ridiculousness of Arizona election audit
CNN
Now playing
02:26
GOP lawmaker rips colleagues' 'bogus' insurrection claims
US President Donald Trump boards Air Force One before departing Harlingen, Texas on January 12, 2021. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)
Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images
US President Donald Trump boards Air Force One before departing Harlingen, Texas on January 12, 2021. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)
Now playing
04:41
Axios: Trump tried to pull troops from around world after election loss
Now playing
01:19
Gov. Hogan: Trump is toxic for the GOP
Fox News
Now playing
01:52
McCarthy's Trump comment draws laughter from CNN panel
Now playing
06:39
Acosta: Gaslighting on full blast as GOP attempts to rewrite history
Now playing
01:29
Ocasio-Cortez speaks about Marjorie Taylor Greene confrontation
Cheney Tapper
CNN
Cheney Tapper
Now playing
02:59
See Liz Cheney's response when Tapper asks if the Republican Party is worth saving
CNN
Now playing
04:39
Rep. Stefanik speaks out after being elected to GOP leadership
May 14, 2021, USA: Former Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg talks to the Orlando Sentinel in September 2019, during an interview at his office in Lake Mary. (Credit Image: © TNS via ZUMA Wire)
Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel/TNS via ZUMA Wire/ZUMAPRESS.com
May 14, 2021, USA: Former Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg talks to the Orlando Sentinel in September 2019, during an interview at his office in Lake Mary. (Credit Image: © TNS via ZUMA Wire)
Now playing
02:41
Honig: This is the worst possible news for Gaetz
Now playing
03:12
Why ballots in controversial election 'audit' are being moved
(CNN) —  

President Donald Trump can’t stop talking about his “perfect” call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and disparaging the whistleblower whose complaint sparked the House impeachment inquiry.

That investigation has revealed a months-long effort to pressure Ukraine to investigate matters that would benefit him politically.

But amid mounting evidence that the scandal threatening Trump’s presidency goes far beyond a single call to Ukraine’s President, Trump is homing in on a narrow set of issues as he builds his defense.

“What I said on the phone call with the Ukrainian President is ‘perfectly’ stated,” Trump tweeted on Monday. “There is no reason to call witnesses to analyze my words and meaning. This is just another Democrat Hoax that I have had to live with from the day I got elected (and before!) Disgraceful!”

Later that morning, he tweeted: “Read the Transcript!”

The tweets followed a weekend during which Trump repeatedly falsely accused the whistleblower of mischaracterizing his call with Zelensky, said he would like the whistleblower’s identity to be outed and suggested that his phone call with Zelensky was the core reason why Democrats are marching toward impeachment.

“I think that whistleblower gave a lot of false information and you have to see who the whistleblower is. Once I released the transcript, which was almost immediately, the whistleblower’s report was very wrong because as you know the whistleblower covered mostly my transcript, my call with the President of Ukraine,” Trump said Monday.

Contrary to Trump’s claims, testimony in recent weeks by current and former Trump administration officials has corroborated the whistleblower’s key allegations and made clear that there was a broad effort by Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and US officials before and after the call to pressure Ukraine into investigating former Vice President Joe Biden and a conspiracy theory related to a hacked Democratic National Committee server.

Several current and former officials have testified that a White House meeting between Trump and Zelensky and frozen US security aid to Ukraine were contingent on Ukraine publicly announcing those investigations.

While Trump asked Zelensky for “a favor” – investigating matters related to the 2016 election as well as Biden’s push for the ouster of a Ukrainian prosecutor – during the phone call, testimony by Trump administration officials has pointed to the existence a far more explicit quid pro quo carried out by Trump’s emissaries.

Instead, the testimony indicates that Trump put the US foreign policy apparatus to work for his political benefit – a far broader and more damaging allegation than any focused on a Trump’s call with Zelensky.

01:23 - Source: CNN
4 White House officials are refusing to testify

But Trump is making the more accessible case, said former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, who now hosts “War Room: Impeachment,” a podcast dedicated to defending Trump amid the drive to impeachment.

“The American people are just coming into the story right now. Since the vote, people are just now taking this seriously,” Bannon said. “He’s going to distill it down to something that is very simple, easy to comprehend. ‘It’s a perfect phone call. I didn’t do anything wrong.’ “

Trump has all but ignored the mounting allegations, dismissing two members of his administration who testified about the existence of that quid pro quo as “Never Trumpers” and declining to address the substance of the allegations.

Returning to the White House on Sunday, Trump mentioned the whistleblower a dozen times during a 12-minute gaggle with reporters. And his Republican allies on Capitol Hill have continued to focus on process issues with the Democratic-led House impeachment inquiry and are calling for the whistleblower to testify publicly, rather than defend Trump on the substance of the allegations he is facing.

Trump last week even suggested reading the rough transcript of his call with Zelensky during an address to the nation, a sign that the President is confident he can defend his conduct on the call and convince the public that he did nothing wrong.

Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway defended Trump’s conduct on the call during an appearance Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“He never mentioned 2020, quid pro quo, holding up aid, Joe Biden, his political rival,” Conway said. “What the President said – you just quoted it, Dana. People are talking about Joe Biden and his son. You’re darn right they were.”

As questions turned to the existence of a quid pro quo involving US security aid, Conway dodged and refused to answer whether a quid pro quo had taken place. Instead, she focused on the outcome.

“What I’m telling you is Ukraine has the aid,” Conway said. “No quid pro quo in this call in terms of the President.”