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Impeachment news roundup: Dec. 2

White House won’t participate in Judiciary impeachment hearing; ranking member Collins wants minority to select experts

Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., will convene his committee to hear from constitutional experts on the legality of the impeachment inquiry. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., will convene his committee to hear from constitutional experts on the legality of the impeachment inquiry. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Republicans on the Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs panels released a 123-page staff report Monday panning the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry as “an orchestrated campaign to upend our political system.”

The GOP members said evidence presented during the fact-finding stage of Democrats’ impeachment inquiry “does not prove” Democrats’ allegations that President Donald Trump abused his authority to pressure Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden to benefit his 2020 election by leveraging a White House meeting and the release of U.S. security assistance.

The House Judiciary Committee will take over the next phase of the impeachment inquiry this week, but Trump won’t be participating.

The committee on Monday announced the four academic witnesses testifying at its hearing on the constitutional grounds for impeaching a president: Noah Feldman of Harvard Law School, Pamela S. Karlan of Stanford Law School, Michael Gerhardt of the University of North Carolina School of Law and Jonathan Turley of the George Washington University Law School.

Here’s the latest on the impeachment inquiry:

Nadler responds: House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler invited the president to testify as “an opportunity to discuss the historical and constitutional basis of impeachment, as well as the Framers’ intent and understanding of terms like ‘high crimes and misdemeanors.’” 

White House counsel Pat Cipollone said Sunday evening in a five-page letter that the president’s team won’t take part in Wednesday’s hearing and criticized the impeachment process.

“It is too late to cure the profound procedural deficiencies that have tainted this entire inquiry,” Cipollone wrote in his response to Nadler. “We cannot fairly be expected to participate in a hearing while the witnesses are yet to be named and while it remains unclear whether the Judiciary Committee will afford the president a fair process through additional hearings.”

Cipollone called the request an “unprecedented and extremely troubling denial of basic due process that destroys the legitimacy and credibility of your inquiry.”

Nadler called Cipollone’s letter saying Trump will not participate in the committee’s impeachment hearing “unfortunate.”

“The American people deserve transparency,” the New York Democrat said in a statement. “If the president thinks the call was ‘perfect’ and there is nothing to hide then he would turn over the thousands of pages of documents requested by Congress, allow witnesses to testify instead of blocking testimony with baseless privilege claims, and provide any exculpatory information that refutes the overwhelming evidence of his abuse of power.”

Trump’s take: Trump accused House Democrats of purposely scheduling the Judiciary Committee’s first impeachment hearing while he will be on foreign soil, suggesting they aim to humiliate him. His comment came as he spoke to reporters Monday morning while leaving for a two-day NATO summit in London.

“The radical left Democrats … decided, this was set up a year ago, decided this was the right time,” he said Monday, saying a NATO summit is among the “most important” trips a U.S. president makes annually. “It will never end because they will do what they want to do.”

Asked why he is not sending lawyers to Judiciary’s first hearing, which features legal experts and no so-called “fact witnesses,” the president said he opted against doing so because the probe is a “hoax” and a “disgrace.”

Intel panel report: A House Intelligence Committee official told CQ Roll Call that a draft report on evidence gathered so far in the impeachment inquiry will be released to committee members Monday evening.

The Committee will hold a business meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday to consider and adopt the report, the official said. The report, along with any minority views, will then be forwarded to the Judiciary Committee.

The Judiciary Committee will decide whether to draft articles of impeachment.

More hearings possible: Intelligence Chairman Adam B. Schiff, D-Calif., left open the possibility of more testimony before his committee in a Dear Colleague letter sent before Thanksgiving.

“If other witnesses seek to show the same patriotism and courage of their colleagues and deputies and decide to obey their duty to the country over fealty to the President, we are prepared to hear from them,” Schiff wrote.

Schiff on the stand: Judiciary Committee ranking member Doug Collins, R-Ga., told Fox News on Sunday that he will call Schiff to testify in Wednesday’s hearing.

“If he chooses not to, then I really question his veracity and what he’s putting in his report. I question the motive of why he’s doing it,” Collins said.

Collins wants Schiff to discuss what he and his staff know about the whistleblower whose complaint to the intelligence committee inspector general over Trump’s call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy is at the center of the impeachment inquiry, and any interaction Schiff has had with Ukraine.

He also accused Schiff of withholding relevant documents.

“If they think they have such a case, give us all the materials,” Collins said.

Expanded witness list: Collins wrote a letter to Nadler on Saturday asking the chairman to expand the list of academics to discuss the constitutional standing of the impeachment inquiry.

Nadler said he planned to have four constitutional scholars testify, but Collins said that during the impeachment of then-President Bill Clinton, the committee convened two panels of 10 and nine witnesses, respectively.

“In light of this, I request that you expand the number of witnesses called upon to testify on December 4 to give the American people a wider array of perspectives regarding impeachment,” Collins wrote.

Collins also asked that Nadler allow the minority to select its own experts to testify.

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