Standing Pat: White House Counsel Says Participation in House’s Impeachment Inquiry Is a No-Go

Just in case Democrats weren’t sure what it meant when the White House refused to participate in the House Judiciary Committee hearings on Wednesday, White House counsel Pat Cipollone sent a two-paragraph letter to Committee Chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) on Friday evening.

Cipollone, who himself knows a thing or two about complaints that were raised about President Donald Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, began by calling the impeachment inquiry “baseless” and criticizing Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) for asking the Judiciary Committee to move forward.

“As you know, your impeachment inquiry is completely baseless and has violated basic principles of due process and fundamental fairness,” Cipollone said. “Nevertheless, the Speaker of the House yesterday ordered House Democrats to proceed with articles of impeachment before your Committee has heard a single shred of evidence.”

Three of four constitutional law scholars who testified at the Wednesday hearing said it was clear that President Trump committed impeachable offenses.

Cipollone has repeatedly relayed to key witnesses the president’s directives not to testify, as Democrats attempt to make the case that the president abused his power. Cipollone then attempted to turn the tables, saying that, actually, it is congressional Democrats who are abusing their power. He asked the House to either immediately end the “charade”now or, as Trump said, impeach the president “fast” so we can get the trial in the Senate (i.e. acquittal) over with.

“House Democrats have wasted enough America’s time with this charade. 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,” Cipollone warned. “Whatever course you choose, as the President has recently stated: ‘if you are going to impeach me, do it now fast, so we can have a fair trial in the Senate, and so that our Country can go back to business.'”

During the House Intelligence Committee phase, the president, his lawyers and his Republican supporters complained that they were barred from participating in the proceedings and mounting a defense. The Judiciary Committee invited the White House to participate, but Trump et al. are opting out of the proceedings, seemingly as part of strategy to avoid legitimizing it by participating.

[Image via Roberto Schmidt/Getty Images]

Matt Naham is managing editor of Law&Crime. He formerly worked as news editor and weekend editor at Rare.

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