WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- The White House on Friday told the U.S. Congress on Friday that it will not participate in impeachment hearings against President Donald Trump in the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee this week.
- WH counsel Pat Cipollone called the impeachment inquiry “completely baseless” in a letter sent to Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler.
- Cipollone’s letter said “House Democrats should end this inquiry now and not waste even more time with additional hearings.”
The White House on Friday informed the U.S. Congress on Friday that it will not participate in impeachment hearings against President Donald Trump in the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee this week.
In a letter to Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, White House counsel Pat Cipollone called the impeachment inquiry “completely baseless.” He added that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had ordered Democrats to proceed with articles of impeachment “before your committee has heard a single shred of evidence.”
A senior administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity. said: “We don’t see any reason to participate because the process is unfair.”
“We haven’t been given any fair opportunity to participate,” he continued. “The speaker has already announced the predetermined result and they will not give us the ability to call any witnesses.”
In response, Nadler expressed disappointment, saying in a statement: “The American people deserve answers from President Trump.”
On Thursday, Pelosi asked the Judiciary Committee to draw up articles of impeachment against Trump. According to Reuters, the committee could draft and recommend the articles by Thursday and the full Democratic-led House could vote on them by Christmas, imperiling Trump’s presidency as his 2020 re-election campaign looms.
Cipollone’s letter said: “House Democrats have wasted enough of America’s time with this charade. You should end this inquiry now and not waste even more time with additional hearings.”
The WH counsel quoted the president as saying, “If you are going to impeach me, do it now, fast, so we can have a fair trial in the Senate, and so that our country can get back to business.”
Trump said his lawyers will present a defense in the Republican-controlled Senate, where he believes he will receive fair treatment.
Republican members of the House Judiciary Committee submitted a list of eight witnesses they want to call before the panel including former vice president Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, the anonymous whistleblower and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff.
House Republicans had already sought testimony before the Intelligence Committee from three people on the list – the whistleblower, Hunter Biden and Biden’s former business associate Devon Archer. But they were turned down by Schiff and will likely receive the same response from Nadler, a Democrat.
Though Nadler did not immediately respond to the Republican witness requests, he said of Trump’s refusal to participate: “Having declined this opportunity, he cannot claim that the process is unfair. The President’s failure will not prevent us from carrying out our solemn constitutional duty.”