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Impeachment news roundup: Oct. 9

The latest on the impeachment inquiry

A coalition of progressive activist groups rally for impeachment at the Capitol in September. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)
A coalition of progressive activist groups rally for impeachment at the Capitol in September. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The White House has told House Democrats in an eight-page letter that it intends to stop all cooperation with its “illegitimate” impeachment inquiry.

White House counsel Pat Cippolone on Tuesday cited Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s refusal to allow a House vote to proceed with impeachment as grounds to delegitimize the inquiry. House Republicans want Democrats to go on record with a vote that would allow its members to have subpoena power to call its their own witnesses and present information.

[White House to House Dems: Impeachment inquiry ‘violates the Constitution’]

Democrats have said they’ll consider White House refusal to cooperate as another case of obstructing justice as it builds its case against President Donald Trump.

The president started his Wednesday by attacking the whistleblower who exposed the contents of his call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy that accelerated Democrats’ push for impeachment.

Here is the latest:

Bulldog in the house: Former South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy is joining the president’s impeachment defense team, Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow said Wednesday evening.

Terminated earlier in the day by Fox News from his contributor gig, Gowdy once slammed the Obama administration for withholding documents and witnesses from Congress. President Donald Trump’s current strategy will force the former congressman to take the opposite position — and likely defend it on cable news networks

See you in court: Trump, answering questions from reporters for the first time in several days, predicted a letter the White House sent Tuesday to Democrats announcing it will not cooperate with the impeachment inquiry likely will become a “Supreme Court case.”

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Political motivations: Arkansas GOP Sen. Tom Cotton has written to intelligence community inspector general Michael Atkinson seeking answers to questions about possible political motivations of the whistleblower.

Cotton wrote that he had tried to ask similar questions during Atkinson’s appearance before the Senate Intelligence Committee, in closed session.

“Barely lawyered temper tantrum”: Experts say the letter that the White House sent to House Democrats refusing to cooperate with their impeachment inquiry is legally flimsy, but it wasn’t really about the law.

The points raised in the letter “are based on political bluster, not law,” said Walter Shaub, who resigned as White House ethics adviser under Trump.

[Former ethics czar warns impeachment letter ‘mistakes Trump for a king’]

Patriot or partisan?:  The president and his surrogates have tried to discredit the whistleblower and House Democrats since Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced a formal impeachment probe three weeks ago — and now, Trump and Co. are focusing more and more on that intelligence official.

Trump took to Twitter early Wednesday to claim the whistleblower “should be exposed and questioned properly” over a “conflict of interest and involvement with a Democrat Candidate.” The president’s tweet reflected some reports that the whistleblower disclosed to a top government inspector general that he had either a personal or professional relationship with one of the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates.

It is not yet clear which candidate the whistleblower might be close to, or if, as Trump suggests, that candidate had a role in the whistleblower’s decision to come forward. But that is not stopping Trump from trying to paint the whistleblower as a political partisan out to get him and bring down his presidency.

“The Whistleblower’s lawyer is a big Democrat,” Trump tweeted, referring to D.C. attorney Mark Zaid. The Whistleblower has ties to one of my DEMOCRAT OPPONENTS. Why does the ICIG allow this scam to continue?”

Zaid has not responded to an email seeking comment, but he did tweet this Wednesday morning: “This is important. These #whistleblowers are not about partisan attacks. They are about the facts. As it should be.”

The White House had not responded to another email asking for evidence to support the president’s claims, as well as how he can make them despite saying he does not know the whistleblower’s identity.

Gowdy not a go — yet: A White House official said former GOP Rep. Trey Gowdy — who railed against the Obama administration over withholding information from lawmakers when he was chairman of the House Oversight Committee — has not yet joined President Trump’s impeachment defense team as has been reported, at least not officially.

“We have no personnel announcements at this time,” the official wrote in an email. But the same official would not rule out Gowdy joining the Trump legal team soon. He lunched with the president at the White House on Tuesday. 

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Fox News said Gowdy has been “terminated” from his position as a contributor with the network, which he took earlier this year. 

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