In a five-page letter to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler on Sunday, the White House declined to participate in the first Judiciary Committee impeachment hearing this week and condemned the ongoing Democrat-led process as “baseless” and “highly partisan.”
The scathing letter, signed by Counsel to the President Pat A. Cipollone, accused Nadler of providing the Trump administration with “little information about the upcoming hearing” and “purposely” scheduling the initial hearing “during a time that you know the President will be out of the country attending the NATO Leaders Meeting in London.”
“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 wrote to Nadler. “More importantly, an invitation to an academic discussion with law professors does not begin to provide the President with any semblance of a fair process.”
In a tweet on Sunday afternoon, the president also accused Democrats of “undercutting our Country” by scheduling the “most ridiculous” hearing “on [the] same dates as NATO.”
After two weeks of public impeachment hearings in the House Intelligence Committee, the inquiry will head to the House Judiciary Committee this coming week. The White House’s response comes after the committee’s chairman asked the Trump administration, in a letter sent November 26, to indicate by Sunday whether it intends to take part in Wednesday’s hearing.
Your letter “vaguely indicates that you intend to hold a hearing to discuss the ‘historical and constitutional basis of impeachment,'” Cipollone wrote. “We understand this to mean that your initial hearing will include no fact witnesses at all.”
Cipollone asserted that Nadler’s letter “attempts to invoke precedent from the Clinton impeachment inquiry,” but also “completely” ignores the “process followed then” and “all other historical precedent.”
“You have afforded the President no scheduling input, no meaningful information, and so little time to prepare that you have effectively denied the Administration a fair opportunity to participate,” the White House letter read. “Although the hearing is set to occur in just three days, you still have not disclosed the identities of the witnesses who will appear.”
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Cipollone also lashed out at Nadler for asking the administration to provide notice by December 6 on whether they intend to mount a defense for Trump. You intended “to create the false appearance of providing the President some rudimentary process,” he wrote. “It is too late to cure the profound procedural deficiencies that have tainted this entire inquiry.”
The White House counsel added: “Nevertheless, if you are serious about conducting a fair process going forward, and in order to protect the rights and privileges of the President, we may consider participating in future Judiciary Committee proceedings if you afford the Administration the ability to do so meaningfully.”
The formal impeachment inquiry, announced by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in late September, centers around the question of whether Trump abused his power in office when he pressed Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to probe the family of Vice President Joe Biden during phone call in July.
Read the full letter here.