'Tell the truth ... for a change': ex-President Carter's advice to Trump

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Former Democratic U.S. President Jimmy Carter on Tuesday called on President Donald Trump to cooperate with Congress' impeachment inquiry, saying his refusal to comply with lawmakers' requests has left Americans grappling for answers.

The Republican leader faces allegations he abused his office by pushing Ukraine to investigate his political rival Joe Biden. Earlier on Tuesday, the Trump administration blocked a key witness from appearing before three House committees, prompting a subpoena.

"Tell the truth, I think, for a change," Carter told MSNBC when asked what advice he would give Trump.

Trump has denied any wrongdoing over Ukraine and has reacted to the inquiry with a flurry of posts on Twitter lobbing obscenities and insulting nicknames for Democratic lawmakers, who launched their impeachment probe two weeks ago.

While the Republican-led Senate now is "unlikely" to remove Trump even if the Democratic-controlled House backs impeachment, Carter said that could change depending on what the investigation reveals.

"If the facts reveal an increasing number of things that he has actually done, then of course impeachment is possible and removal from office is possible," the nation's oldest living former president told MSNBC.

24 PHOTOS
Jimmy Carter through the years
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Jimmy Carter through the years
Jimmy(James Earl) Carter as Ensign, USN, circa World War II. (Photo by PhotoQuest/Getty Images)
American politician and US Presidential candidate Jimmy Carter holds a handful of peanuts (referencing his career as a peanut farmer) during a campaign event, Boston, Massachusetts, 1976. (Photo by Mikki Ansin/Getty Images)
American politician and US Presidential candidate Jimmy Carter (center) smiles after his victory in the Pennsylvania Primary election, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, April 27, 1976. Among those on stage with him are politicians Samuel L Evans (left) and Senator Birch Bayh (second left). (Photo by Mikki Ansin/Getty Images)
U.S. president Jimmy Carter smiling at a podium in front of an American flag, 1970s. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
1976: A campaign button supporting the Democratic politician Jimmy Carter for President. (Photo by MPI/Getty Images)
U.S. President Jimmy Carter and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat at Camp David, Maryland, September 1989. Courtesy Jimmy Carter Library/National Archives/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY
Jimmy Carter on his peanut farm, Plains, Georgia, 1976. (Photo by PhotoQuest/Getty Images)
Jimmy Carter (left) and Sen. Walter Mondale at the 1976 Democratic National Convention at Madison Square Garden. (Photo by James Garrett/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
Photograph of President Jimmy Carter and First Lady Rosalynn Carter dancing at a White House Congressional Ball. Photographed by Marion S. Trikosko. Dated 1977. (Photo by: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)
U.S. President Jimmy Carter announces new sanctions against Iran in retaliation for taking U.S. hostages, at the White House, Washington, D.C., U.S., April 7, 1980. Library of Congress/Marion S. Trikosko/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Jimmy Carter of Plains, GA, was the 39th President of the United States and a big fan of NASCAR racing. In 1978, Carter invited a number of NASCAR Cup stars to the White House for a big dinner and entertainment provided by country star Willie Nelson. Nelson was there and so were First Lady Rosalynn Carter and the President'€™s brother Billy Carter, but President Carter was nowhere to be found. The President had gone to Camp David to meet with the leaders of Israel and Egypt, Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat, in what ultimately would lead to a huge Middle East peace agreement known later as the Camp David Accords. (Photo by ISC Images & Archives via Getty Images)
Jean-Paul II In Washington, United States On October 06, 1979)-John-Paul II, Jimmy Carter and Rosalyn at the White House. (Photo by Pool JEAN-PAUL II AUX USA/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
Photograph of President Jimmy Carter announcing new sanctions against Iran following the taking American hostages. Photographed by Marion S. Trikosko. Dated 1980. (Photo by: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)
Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter during Humanitarian Awards Dinner - November 23, 1987 at Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
Gillian Sorenson and Jimmy Carter during Benefit Dinner Dance for the Homeless - November 18, 1988 at Plaza Hotel in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
Musician Willie Nelson and former President Jimmy Carter at the taping of 'CMT Homecoming: Jimmy Carter in Plains,' which will premiere on CMT in December 2004. (Photo by Rick Diamond/WireImage)
ATLANTA - APRIL 22: Former President Jimmy Carter watches the game between the Philiadelphia Phillies and the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field on April 22, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
U.S. President Donald Trump, first lady Melania Trump, former President Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, former President Bill Clinton, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and former President Jimmy Carter listen as former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney speaks during a State Funeral at the National Cathedral, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2018, in Washington, for former President George H.W. Bush. Alex Brandon/Pool via REUTERS
CAIRO, EGYPT - MAY 24: Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter addresses the media on the second day of Egypt's presidential election on May 24, 2012 in Cairo, Egypt. Carter Center election monitors observed the presidential election, the first of the post-Mubarak era. If no candidate wins an outright majority of the vote, the election would go to a second round June 16-17. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
Former US President Jimmy Carter signs his new Book 'A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety' at Barnes & Noble on 5th avenue in New York on July 7, 2015. Photo by KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images
PASADENA, CA - JULY 30: President Jimmy Carter photographed at Vroman's Bookstore on July 30, 2015 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Paul Redmond / Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - AUGUST 20: Former President Jimmy Carter discusses his cancer diagnosis during a press conference at the Carter Center on August 20, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia. Carter confirmed that he has melanoma that has spread to his liver and brain and will start treatment today. (Photo by Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)
Former President Jimmy Carter and Rosalynn Carter talk about the future of The Carter Center and their global work during a town hall, Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019, in Atlanta. Carter said he doesn’t believe he could have managed the most powerful office in the world as an 80 year old. Carter didn’t tie his answer to any of his fellow Democrats running for president. But two leading 2020 candidates, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, would turn 80 during their terms if elected. Biden is 76. Sanders is 78. (Branden Camp/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)
Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, right, and his husband, Chasten Glezman, left, speak with former President Jimmy Carter Sunday, May 5, 2019 at former President Jimmy Carter's Sunday school class in Plains, Georgia. (AP Photo/Paul Newberry)
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Carter, 95, ran on a pledge of honesty and served one term in the White House from 1977 to 1981. He suffered from his own political controversies including a U.S. hostage crisis in Iran.

He criticized Trump's response to the impeachment probe, saying blocking witnesses and documents was "stonewalling."

"That's a departure from custom and a departure from what the American people expect," Carter said. "That in itself is going to be ... another item of evidence that can be used against him."

Trump, he said, should restrain himself on Twitter and "give the House of Representatives and the Senate -- and the general public -- the evidence that we need to form a case either for or against him."

Representatives for the other living former U.S. presidents -- Democrats Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, and Republican George W. Bush -- could not be immediately reached for comment.

Clinton became the second U.S. president to be impeached by in 1998 but was not removed from office by the Senate. Congress took up impeachment proceedings against President Andrew Johnson in 1868 and President Richard Nixon resigned in 1974 under threat of impeachment.

(Reporting by Susan Heavey; Editing by Scott Malone and Tom Brown)

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