White House Counsel Pat Cipollone wrote in a lengthy letter to Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) that “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.”
Nadler gave Trump and his representatives until 6 PM ET on Sunday to inform them whether they would participate in the hearing, which will focus on the constitutional case for impeachment.
As he has before, Cipollone objected to the hearings as an unfair process, and argued that Nadler gave them just days to prepare. He also wrote that they were not given an opportunity to participate in the five Intelligence Committee hearings that have featured fact witnesses, rather than a group of academic experts. There have been reports that the hearing on Wednesday will include university professors talking about the threshold for “high crimes and misdemeanors,” as well as the historic perspective on impeachment.
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In the letter, Cipollone said that “an invitation to an academic discussion with law professors does not begin to provide the president with any semblance of a fair process.”
Cipollone has yet to say whether they will participate in future hearings. Nadler wrote a letter on Friday asking whether they would participate in subsequent hearings, and to inform them by Dec. 6.
This week, the House Intelligence Committee will deliver a report detailing its findings in the impeachment inquiry, after conducting a series of closed-door interviews with witnesses, followed by five days of public hearings. About 11 million to 14 million watched those hearings, as witnesses such as Gordon Sondland, Fiona Hill and Alexander Vindman described a shadow foreign policy towards Ukraine that was carried out by Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.
At the heart of the impeachment inquiry is whether Trump asked the president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, to investigate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, who was on the board of a Ukrainian gas company while his father was vice president. The Intelligence Committee report also will address whether U.S. aid to Ukraine was withheld until such investigations were launched or merely announced. The chairman of the Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), also has indicated that Democrats would pursue obstruction charges against Trump after the White House refused to respond to congressional subpoenas, including ones demanding the testimony of key figures such as Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
The House voted along party lines last month on the terms of the impeachment inquiry, in which Trump or his representatives would be invited to participate as the Judiciary Committee took up the question. But it contained no such provision as the Intelligence Committee held hearings.
“Inviting the administration now to participate in an after-the-fact constitutional law seminar — with yet-to-be-named witnesses — only demonstrates further the countless procedural deficiencies that have infected this inquiry from its inception and shows the lack of seriousness with which you are undertaking these proceedings,” Cipollone wrote.