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White House tells Dems it won’t cooperate with Judiciary impeachment hearings

Top lawyer tells Congress to end proceedings

White House Counsel Pat Cipollone indicated the White House would not participate. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
White House Counsel Pat Cipollone indicated the White House would not participate. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

White House Counsel Pat Cipollone signaled to House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler Friday that President Donald Trump will not have his attorneys take part in his panel’s remaining impeachment hearings.

“As you know, your impeachment inquiry is completely baseless and has violated basic principles of due process and fundamental fairness,” he wrote in a brief letter that never states the White House will not participate but makes Trump’s feeling about the probe clear.

“House Democrats have wasted enough of America’s time with this charade,” the top White House lawyer wrote. “You should end this inquiry now and not waste even more time with additional hearings. Adopting articles of impeachment would be a reckless abuse of power by House Democrats, and would constitute the most unjust, highly partisan, and unconstitutional attempt at impeachment in our Nation’s history.”

The committee has scheduled a Monday morning hearing at which members will hear “presentations of evidence” from attorneys for the Judiciary and Intelligence committees.

Even before it had submitted its decision to Capitol Hill, the White House said the probe, for Democrats, “is all about politics.”

“I do think it’s somewhat interesting … that [Speaker] Nancy Pelosi said to move forward with articles of impeachment even though we hadn’t responded to the letter,” White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary J. Hogan Gidley told reporters Friday afternoon. As the Trump team has all week, he said Pelosi and House Democrats should “get back to work for the American people.”

The White House’s decision came into a response to Nadler’s letter last week that asked Trump whether he or his attorneys would take part in the hearings. 

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“In anticipation of consideration of these matters, I am writing to determine if your counsel will seek to exercise the specific privileges set forth in the Judiciary Committee’s impeachment procedures adopted pursuant to H. Res. 660 and participate in the upcoming impeachment proceedings,” the chairman wrote.

The response, however, was anything but prompt. The president and his aides used nearly all of the allotted time before letting the New York Democrat know Trump intends to sit out the hearings.

Top House Democrats running the impeachment inquiry have sharply criticized Trump for withholding witnesses and information.

“The point is … this is information they should be making available to Congress,” Pelosi told CNN Thursday night. 

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 “Which would be elucidating in terms of some of the actions they’ve taken. They won’t let us see that. That’s in the courts,” she said. “But even Richard Nixon said, ‘Yes, have access to the court case.’”

The Trump administration has said no thanks to the inquiry since October, refusing to produce documents requested by investigating committees and blocking White House and other government agency officials from testifying, though some have defied that guidance and others have testified under subpoena.

Asked Thursday if he harbors concerns being only the third U.S. president to be impeached by the House would leave a stain on his legacy, Trump replied: “No, not at all,” adding dismissively, “It’s a big, fat hoax.”


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