WASHINGTON - While most political eyes are on the opening day of the public phase of the impeachment inquiry, the one person its outcome affects the most is tuning out the television.
"It's a witch hunt, it's a hoax. I'm too busy to watch it. So, I'm sure I'll get a report," President Donald Trump told reporters in a meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the White House."There's nothing there."
While claiming he did not watch the hearing, Trump said at one point: "I see they're using lawyers that are television lawyers, they took some guys off television."
He appeared to be referring to Daniel Goldman, the Democrats' lead impeachment hearing lawyer. Goldman served as an assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York for a decade before he left his post in 2017 to become a television legal analyst.
Though the White House said the president was not watching, he earlier retweeted more than a dozen posts that included videos from the hearing and critical comments from Republicans, including a message from the official White House Twitter account that said: "New hoax. Same swamp."
All this as aides insisted that Trump was working on other business.
"He's not watching - he's working," White House spokesman Hogan Gidley told USA TODAY.
Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham later sent out a similar comment to the press pool, saying Trump "is in the Oval Office in meetings. He is working."
Trump also tweeted out an anti-immigration, anti-Democratic video produced by his re-election campaign.
Trump spent much of the morning in the Oval Office, which is not outfitted with TVs, though he likely will be briefed on the proceedings on Capitol Hill. He will likely take questions from reporters about the testimony at his press briefing with Erdogan scheduled for later Wednesday.
Before his work day, Trump issued several tweets criticizing the Democratic-led impeachment inquiry.
Meanwhile, TVs are on throughout the West Wing, including in the offices of communication aides who figure to be responding to the day's events.
The White House had planned a campaign-style "rapid response" operation to monitor this week's impeachment hearings and to "react in real-time" to adverse testimony, according to two administration officials.
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The White House also plans to have surrogates "pushing back" on television, radio, print and digital platforms, aides said, arguing that Democrats are failing to make their case against Trump and are engaged in an unfair process.
Trump and his aides are also planning to counter the hearings in a number of other ways, including a release of another Trump conversation with the Ukraine president - not to mention high profile meetings with the president of Turkey on Wednesday as well as the NATO secretary-general on Thursday.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trump not watching live impeachment hearing, White House says