White House Counsel Pat Cipollone sent a letter Tuesday to House Democratic leaders that outright rejected Congress’ impeachment inquiry and sought to delegitimize the entire effort.
“President Trump and his Administration reject your baseless, unconstitutional efforts to overturn the democratic process. Your unprecedented actions have left the President with no choice. In order to fulfill his duties to the American people, the Constitution, the Executive Branch, and all future occupants of the Office of the Presidency, President Trump and his Administration cannot participate in your partisan and unconstitutional inquiry under these circumstances,” Cipollone wrote in the letter addressed to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), House Intel Chair Adam Schiff (D-CA), House Foreign Affairs Chair Eliot Engel (D-NY) and House Oversight Chair Elijah Cummings (D-MD).
The screed accuses Democrats of violating the “Constitution, the rule of law and every past precedent.” It’s clear from the letter that the White House believes taking an aggressive posture toward a co-equal branch of government is advantageous against the widening probe. Cipollone goes so far as to accuse Democrats of seeking to overturn the 2016 election results.
The White House’s letter was apparently in the works since last week, when the AP reported that the White House had planned to formally tell Pelosi that it will not cooperate with the House’s impeachment probe. It was unclear at the time how harsh a stance the White House Counsel’s Office would take. But the White House cranked its outrage up to 11 on Tuesday.
“Never before in our history has the House of Representatives-under the control of either political party-taken the American people down the dangerous path you seem determined to pursue,” Cipollone wrote.
In the letter, Cipollone added that the Democrats “have designed and implemented your inquiry in a maimer that violates fundamental fairness and constitutionally mandated due process” by “denying the President the right to cross-examine witnesses, to call witnesses, to receive transcripts of testimony, to have access to evidence, to have counsel present, and many other basic rights guaranteed to all Americans.”
The White House also argued that the impeachment probe is illegitimate because it was not undertaken with a full vote of the House.
A senior administration official confirmed Tuesday after that a “full halt” was being placed on any cooperation with the House’s inquiry, including its requests that members of the administration sit for interviews or its subpoena of documents.
“The administration’s policy, under the current circumstances at least, as these rules are currently framed, [is] that the administration will have a full halt because this is not a valid procedure for going forward on impeachment inquiry,” the official said.
The administration official, however, was cagey when asked what the House could do to secure the White House’s cooperation. The official refused to commit that the White House would cooperate if there was a floor vote in the House approving the inquiry or even if the House met all the other procedural demands laid out in the letter.
“I am not going to try to provide particular red lines or things like that,” the official said. “The letter, I think, speaks for itself about flaws — we’d have to see what the house wants to do try to remedy them.”
“I don’t want to speculate we will take it as the situation develops and day by day as things change, be able to reevaluate,” the official added.
The White House reiterated its defense of Trump’s now-infamous July call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky being a “perfect” conversation, despite the fact that the White House’s own “memorandum” showed Trump pressuring Ukraine to dig up bogus allegations on the Bidens.
“The record clearly established that the call was completely appropriate and that there is no basis for your inquiry,” Cipollone wrote.
The White House’s letter comes on the heels of another missive from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), who last week called on Pelosi to suspend the impeachment probe — within an hour of Trump calling on the Chinese government to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
Read his full letter below: