President Donald Trump criticized Democrats at the opening of a NATO leaders’ meeting Tuesday, calling the impeachment push by his rivals “unpatriotic” and “a bad thing for our country.”

Trump, who commented while meeting with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, has criticized Democrats for holding an impeachment hearing while he is abroad.

The House Judiciary Committee has set a hearing on the constitutional grounds for Trump’s possible impeachment on Wednesday just before he wraps up two days of meetings with NATO alliance members in London.

“I think it’s very unpatriotic of the Democrats to put on a performance,” Trump said. “I think it’s a bad thing for our country.”

Trump isn’t the only one complaining. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, White House counsel Pat Cipollone and adviser Kellyanne Conway all have criticized the committee’s timing.

Trump insists he’s solely focused on scoring domestic and foreign policy wins, including revamping NATO so that allies spend more on defense. But he’s often appeared consumed by the day-to-day battle against impeachment.

“I’m not even thinking about it,” Trump insisted anew Tuesday.

Before the trip to London, Trump slammed “Do Nothing Democrats” for scheduling the hearing during the NATO meeting as “Not nice!”

He also said that during the flight he had read a newly issued Republican-prepared report on impeachment that called his decision to hold up military aid to Ukraine “entirely prudent.”

Democrats contend Trump abused his presidential powers by holding up the aid to pressure Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son

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But Trump was adamant that the cloud of impeachment wasn’t undercutting his negotiating position on the international stage.

“I know most of the leaders,” Trump said. “I get along with them. It’s a hoax. The impeachment is a hoax. It’s turned out to be a hoax. It’s done for purely political gain. They’re going to see whether or not they can do something in 2020 because otherwise they’re going to lose.”

He also took aim at French President Emmanuel Macron over Macron's criticism of NATO, and criticized the other members of the military alliance for being too slow to beef up their defense budgets.

As prime ministers and presidents of the 29-member alliance converged on London for a summit marking NATO’s 70th birthday, Trump told reporters Macron’s comments were “very nasty” when he lamented the “brain death” of the organization due in large part to a lack of U.S. leadership.

“Sometimes he’ll say things that he shouldn’t say,” Trump said. “Sometimes I think he does things that are counterproductive for his own country.”

Amanda St. Amand • 314-340-8201

@mandystlpd on Twitter

astamand@post-dispatch.com