The White House announced on Sunday that it will not participate in the Judiciary Committee’s first impeachment hearing, also indicating that the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry is a “baseless” and “partisan” exercise in their scathing five-page letter to the chairman.
The decision was made by President Trump based on the advice of some of his allies as well as several congressional Republicans who said that they did not want a White House presence at the mockery of an impeachment hearing that might validate the process they call illegitimate and partisan.
Trump will depend on his GOP allies on the panel which include Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio, John Ratcliffe of Texas, and Matt Gaetz of Florida, for a stellar impeachment defense during the first hearing of the Judiciary panel on Wednesday.
“Under the current circumstances, we do not intend to participate in your Wednesday hearing,” wrote White House Counsel Pat Cipollone to Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), adding that “an invitation to an academic discussion with law professors does not begin to provide the president with any semblance of a fair process.”
Nadler requested that Trump indicate by Sunday whether he himself or a White House attorney would attend the hearing on Wednesday. He also asked Trump to indicate whether he intends to participate in any part of the impeachment proceedings by the Judiciary Committee, which are scheduled to continue next week. Cipollone did leave the option open of the possibility that the White House may participate in future hearings.
Lawmakers will hear about the impeachment process from a panel of constitutional scholars and law professors as well as whether allegations against the president meet the threshold of “high crimes and misdemeanors” as outlined in the Constitution.
Although Nadler has yet to identify any witnesses, Rep. Doug Collins, the top Republican on the committee, has already requested that the panel of witnesses be fair and include an equal number of Democrats and Republicans.
“This is a failure of the Judiciary Committee to be able to talk to fact witnesses, to be able to talk to the people that have actually been a part of this, and actually have the president viably participate in his own defense — which he’s not had the opportunity to do now,” Rep. Collins told Fox News.
The letter by Cipollone on Sunday repeats his past statements on the impeachment inquiry, which he considers to be illegitimate and that it deprives the president of due process. The White House and GOP allies say Democrats have established an impeachment process that prohibits Trump and his attorneys a fair chance to present evidence or cross-examine witnesses.
“It is too late to cure the profound procedural deficiencies that have tainted this entire inquiry,” Cipollone wrote in a letter, “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.”
Meanwhile, Democrats say that they have given the president adequate due process. Wednesday’s hearing will begin a series of hearings by the Judiciary Committee as it prepares to draft articles of impeachment. The goal is to finish the impeachment process by the end of the year.