The White House has said that President Donald Trump’s administration would not participate in a Congressional impeachment hearing on Wednesday, citing a lack of “fair process” but has left open for now its participation in future proceedings.
The House intelligence committee was scheduled to review on Monday a draft of a report based on its hearings so far that it will vote on Tuesday to advance to the judiciary committee, for it to determine the articles of impeachment and put them to a vote by the full House. A Senate trial will be the last and final stage.
The judiciary committee is scheduled to hold its first hearing on Wednesday at which it will discuss constitutional provisions and procedures regarding impeachment with academics and experts as witnesses. The committee had invited President Trump to either participate himself or send his counsel to the hearing, and respond either way by Sunday evening, the deadline.
In a five-page letter sent to committee chairman Gerold Nadler Sunday evening, White House counsel Pat Cipollone said the Trump administration will not participate in the Wednesday hearing saying an “invitation to an academic discussion with law professors does not begin to provide the president with any semblance of a fair process”.
“Under the current circumstances, we do not intend to participate in the Wednesday hearing,” he added.
The administration will respond separately, and later, to another invitation to participate before a December 6 deadline. But the White House counsel asked if the Democratic-led committee will allow Republicans to choose the witnesses and will the president’s counsel be allowed to cross-examine fact-witnesses, even those who had testified earlier.
There had been no response from Nadler’s office.
The judiciary committee will determine the articles of impeachment — charges — against Trump in relation to the administration’s efforts to force Ukraine to investigate the president’s political rival, former vice-president Joe Biden, by both withholding security aid of nearly $400 million and offering Ukraine’s newly elected president Volodymyr Zelensky a status-boosting White House meeting.
President Trump will be in London for the upcoming NATO summit at the time of the hearing, which was cited by Cipollone among other things to question the fairness of the impeachment along with other factors. The president weighed in himself in a series in tweets Monday. In one of them, he cited Zelensky’s assertion in a new interview that there was “no quid pro quo” to bolster his own repeated claims to that effect.
But he ignored portions of the interview in which the Ukrainian president was critical of the Trump administration withholding aid. “We’re at war,” Zelensky said. “If you’re our strategic partner, then you can’t go blocking anything for us. I think that’s just about fairness.”