Trump says impeachment trial witnesses would be national security risk

President Donald Trump

DAVOS, Switzerland, Jan 22 (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday said he would prefer a longer impeachment trial so that current and former top administration officials could testify, but that having them appear would present national security concerns.

Trump, speaking to reporters as he prepared to leave the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, also said he would love to go appear at the Senate trial in his own defense but that his lawyers would likely object.

"I'd love to go," he said during a roughly 40-minute-long news conference. "I'd love to do it."

The Republican president said it was up to the Senate to decide how to handle the trial, but that he would like to have former national security adviser John Bolton and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo testify.

"The problem with John (Bolton) is that it's a national security problem," Trump said before returning to Washington, where opening arguments were set to begin in the historic proceedings.

"He knows some of my thoughts, he knows what I think about leaders. What happens if he reveals what I think about a certain leader and it's not very positive?" he said, adding that Pompeo testifying would also be a risk.

"You could call it presidential prerogative," Trump said. "The way I look at it, I call it national security, for national security reasons. Executive privilege."

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Senate Impeachment Trial: Day 1
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Senate Impeachment Trial: Day 1
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., waves as the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump concludes on Capitol Hill in Washington, early Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., walks from the Senate chamber during the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., walks to the Senate chamber after a dinner break during the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
In this image from video, the vote for passage approving the rules for the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020 is displayed. Senate resolution 483 passed along a party-line vote of 53-47. (Senate Television via AP)
In this image from video, presiding officer Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts reads the results of the vote on approving the rules for the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. Senate resolution 483 passed along a party-line vote of 53-47. (Senate Television via AP)
In this image from video, impeachment manager Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., speaks during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. (Senate Television via AP)
In this image from video, Senators vote on approving the rules for the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. Senate resolution 483 passed along a party-line vote of 53-47. (Senate Television via AP)
In this image from video, Senators vote to table an amendment by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. (Senate Television via AP)
In this image from video, presiding officer Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts reads the results of the vote to table an amendment by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. (Senate Television via AP)
In this image from video, White House deputy counsel Mike Purpura speaks against an amendment regarding calling witnesses offered by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. (Senate Television via AP)
In this image from video, personal attorney to President Donald Trump, Jay Sekulow, argues against a amendment proposed by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to subpoena John Bolton during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. (Senate Television via AP)
In this image from video, White House counsel Pat Cipollone argues against a amendment proposed by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to subpoena John Bolton during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. (Senate Television via AP)
In this image from video, a graphic is displayed as impeachment manager Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., argues in favor of an amendment proposed by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to subpoena John Bolton during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. (Senate Television via AP)
In this image from video, a graphic is displayed as impeachment manager Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., argues in favor of an amendment proposed by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to subpoena John Bolton during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. (Senate Television via AP)
In this image from video, a graphic is displayed as impeachment manager Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., argues in favor of an amendment proposed by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to subpoena John Bolton during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. (Senate Television via AP)
In this image from video, a video is displayed as impeachment manager Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., argues in favor of an amendment proposed by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to subpoena John Bolton during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. (Senate Television via AP)
In this image from video, a graphic is displayed as impeachment manager Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., argues in favor of an amendment proposed by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to subpoena John Bolton during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. (Senate Television via AP)
In this image from video, a graphic is displayed as impeachment manager Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., argues in favor of an amendment proposed by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to subpoena John Bolton during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. (Senate Television via AP)
In this image from video, a graphic is displayed as impeachment manager Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., argues in favor of an amendment proposed by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to subpoena John Bolton during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. (Senate Television via AP)
Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., walks past the Ohio Clock as he heads back to the Senate chamber during a break in the trial of President Donald Trump at the Capitol Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
In this image from video, a video is displayed as impeachment manager Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., argues in favor of an amendment proposed by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to subpoena John Bolton during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. (Senate Television via AP)
In this image from video, a graphic is displayed as impeachment manager Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., argues in favor of an amendment proposed by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to subpoena John Bolton during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. (Senate Television via AP)
In this image from video, a graphic is displayed as impeachment manager Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., argues in favor of an amendment proposed by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to subpoena John Bolton during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. (Senate Television via AP)
In this image from video, impeachment manager Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., argues in favor of an amendment proposed by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to subpoena John Bolton during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. (Senate Television via AP)
Senate majority leader, Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., left, walks out of the Senate chamber during a break in the trial of President Donald Trump at the Capitol Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
In this image from video, White House deputy counsel Patrick Philbin argues against an amendment regarding selective admission of evidence and handling of classified material that was offered by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. (Senate Television via AP)
In this image from video, impeachment manager Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., argues in favor of amendment regarding selective admission of evidence and handling of classified material that was offered by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. (Senate Television via AP)
In this image from video, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., offers an amendment regarding selective admission of evidence and handling of classified material during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. (Senate Television via AP)
In this image from video, a graphic is displayed as impeachment manager Rep. Sylvia Garcia, D-Texas, argues in favor of a amendment offered by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to issue subpoenas to Robert Blair and Patrick Duffey, during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. (Senate Television via AP)
In this image from video, a graphic is displayed as impeachment manager Rep. Sylvia Garcia, D-Texas, argues in favor of a amendment offered by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to issue subpoenas to Robert Blair and Patrick Duffey, during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. (Senate Television via AP)
In this image from video, a graphic is displayed as impeachment manager Rep. Sylvia Garcia, D-Texas, argues in favor of a amendment offered by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to issue subpoenas to Robert Blair and Patrick Duffey, during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. (Senate Television via AP)
In this image from video, a graphic is displayed as impeachment manager Rep. Sylvia Garcia, D-Texas, argues in favor of a amendment offered by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to issue subpoenas to Robert Blair and Patrick Duffey, during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. (Senate Television via AP)
In this image from video, a graphic is displayed as impeachment manager Rep. Sylvia Garcia, D-Texas, argues in favor of a amendment offered by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to issue subpoenas to Robert Blair and Patrick Duffey, during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. (Senate Television via AP)
In this image from video, a graphic is displayed as impeachment manager Rep. Sylvia Garcia, D-Texas, argues in favor of a amendment offered by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to issue subpoenas to Robert Blair and Patrick Duffey, during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. (Senate Television via AP)
In this image from video, a graphic is displayed as impeachment manager Rep. Sylvia Garcia, D-Texas, argues in favor of a amendment offered by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to issue subpoenas to Robert Blair and Patrick Duffey, during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. (Senate Television via AP)
In this image from video, a graphic is displayed as impeachment manager Rep. Sylvia Garcia, D-Texas, argues in favor of a amendment offered by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to issue subpoenas to Robert Blair and Patrick Duffey, during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. (Senate Television via AP)
In this image from video, a graphic is displayed as impeachment manager Rep. Sylvia Garcia, D-Texas, argues in favor of a amendment offered by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to issue subpoenas to Robert Blair and Patrick Duffey, during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. (Senate Television via AP)
In this image from video, a graphic is displayed as impeachment manager Rep. Sylvia Garcia, D-Texas, argues in favor of a amendment offered by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to issue subpoenas to Robert Blair and Patrick Duffey, during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. (Senate Television via AP)
In this image from video, a graphic is displayed as impeachment manager Rep. Sylvia Garcia, D-Texas, argues in favor of a amendment offered by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to issue subpoenas to Robert Blair and Patrick Duffey, during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. (Senate Television via AP)
In this image from video, a graphic is displayed as impeachment manager Rep. Sylvia Garcia, D-Texas, argues in favor of a amendment offered by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to issue subpoenas to Robert Blair and Patrick Duffey, during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. (Senate Television via AP)
In this image from video, a graphic is displayed as impeachment manager Rep. Sylvia Garcia, D-Texas, argues in favor of a amendment offered by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to issue subpoenas to Robert Blair and Patrick Duffey, during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. (Senate Television via AP)
In this image from video, a graphic is displayed as impeachment manager Rep. Sylvia Garcia, D-Texas, argues in favor of a amendment offered by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to issue subpoenas to Robert Blair and Patrick Duffey, during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. (Senate Television via AP)
In this image from video, a graphic is displayed as impeachment manager Rep. Sylvia Garcia, D-Texas, argues in favor of a amendment offered by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to issue subpoenas to Robert Blair and Patrick Duffey, during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. (Senate Television via AP)
In this image from video, impeachment manager Rep. Sylvia Garcia, D-Texas, argues in favor of an amendment offered by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to issue subpoenas to Robert Blair and Patrick Duffey, during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. (Senate Television via AP)
In this image from video, a graphic is displayed as impeachment manager Rep. Sylvia Garcia, D-Texas, argues in favor of a amendment offered by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to issue subpoenas to Robert Blair and Patrick Duffey, during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. (Senate Television via AP)
In this image from video, a graphic is displayed as impeachment manager Rep. Jason Crow, D-Colo., speaks in favor of a amendment offered by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to subpoena documents from the Department of Defense, during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. (Senate Television via AP)
In this image from video, presiding officer Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts speaks during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. (Senate Television via AP)
In this image from video, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., speaks during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. (Senate Television via AP)
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Senators must decide whether to remove Trump from office after he was impeached last month by the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress for pressuring Ukraine to investigate former Democratic Vice President Joe Biden, a political rival, and impeding the inquiry into the matter.

Trump also said he would want to have his acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney testify but that he would not have much more to add to his public comments in television interviews. He also said he would want Rick Perry, adding that the former U.S. Energy Secretary had asked him if he could testify.

"I would rather go the long way," he said.

But, he added, "I'll leave that to the Senate," adding that he would watch the proceedings after leaving the summit.

Trump also said that he would like to have his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, whose efforts on behalf of the president in Ukraine are at the center of the impeachment, serve on his legal team in the Senate but that there could be a conflict.

"He could be a witness at some point," he said.

(Reporting by Alexandra Alper; writing by Susan Heavey; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Chizu Nomiyama)

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