Washington, Dec 2 (IANS) The White House has informed the House Judiciary Committee that it would not attend the panel’s first impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump scheduled for Wednesday.
“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,” White House counsel Pat Cipollone wrote in a five-page letter to Jerry Nadler, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, on Sunday.
“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.
“Accordingly, under the current circumstances, we do not intend to participate in your Wednesday hearing,” Cipollone added.
Nadler’s panel is slated to hold a hearing on Wednesday titled “The Impeachment Inquiry into President Donald J. Trump: Constitutional Grounds for Presidential Impeachment”.
Legal scholars would provide testimony to the panel on that day as Democrats were considering whether the evidence turned up in their weeks-long impeachment inquiry warrants the drafting of articles of impeachment against Trump.
In his letter, Cipollone accused Nadler, a New York Democrat, of purposely scheduling the hearing so that it will run concurrently with Trump’s trip to London for a NATO summit.
Trump has also weighed in on the arrangement, accusing Democrats of “undercutting” the nation in a tweet.
Cipollone noted the White House “fully reserves the right to respond further” if Nadler releases more information about the committee’s plans for Wednesday’s hearing.
House Democrats are conducting an impeachment inquiry into whether Trump abused his office by pressuring Ukraine to pursue investigations that could benefit him politically.
Lawmakers are also examining whether the Republican tied a White House meeting or aid for Ukraine to those investigations.
The House Intelligence Committee concluded its public hearings prior to the Thanksgiving recess after it heard testimony from a series of current and former Trump administration officials and has spent the Thanksgiving recess drafting a report of its findings.
Lawmakers on the intelligence panel are expected to begin reviewing a draft version of the report on Monday evening and will vote at a business meeting on Tuesday on whether to adopt the report, which would be sent to the Judiciary Committee thereafter.
The White House has refused to cooperate with the investigation, accusing Democrats of an unfair process.
Several senior administration officials have refused to testify, and multiple agencies have stonewalled Democratic requests for documents and communications.