6 Of The Most Gobsmacking Lines From WH Screed Against Impeachment Probe

President Donald Trump (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
|
October 9, 2019 10:46 a.m.

The White House’s written assault against Democrats’ impeachment inquiry read something like an extended Twitter thread by President Trump.

The letter — written by White House Counsel Pat Cipollone and 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)— not only rejected Congress’ impeachment inquiry, but also made clear that the White House seeks to delegitimize the constitutional validity of the Democrats’ impeachment process.

Cipollone’s screed, which the AP reported was in the works last week and was expected to formally tell Pelosi that it will refuse to cooperate with the House’s impeachment probe, read more like a political call to action than a well-reasoned legal document.

Gregg Nunziata, former George W. Bush Justice Department official and former General Counsel to Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), told CNN Wednesday morning that the White House’s letter “reads like a very political document” and that it “doesn’t read like it even came from a lawyer.”

Newsletters
Get TPM in your inbox, twice weekly.
Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

“We should be concerned with a White House that is attempting to delegitimize Congress’ oversight powers,” Nunziata said. “If you’re a fan of President Trump, we’re not always going to have a President Trump in the White House. Someday we’ll have a president you might not like. And we’re going to want Congress to have the ability to enforce its oversight responsibilities that are really inherent in its constitutional role.”

Watch Nunziata’s remarks below:

Below are some of the most gobsmacking lines in the letter:

  1. Characterizing the impeachment inquiry as a “dangerous path”
"
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. "

2. Accusing House Democrats of attempting to “overturn” Trump’s 2016 win

"
Put simply, you seek to overturn the results of the 2016 election and deprive the American people of the President they have freely chosen. "

3. Reiterating the White House’s talking point that  Trump’s now-infamous July call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was a “perfect” conversation, despite how its 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 "

4. Theorizing that the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry risks “deepening divisions in the country”

"
Precisely because it nullifies the outcome of the democratic process, impeachment of the President is fraught with the risk of deepening divisions in the country and creating long-lasting rifts in the body politic. Unfortunately, you are now playing out exactly the partisan rush to judgment that the Founders so strongly warned against. The American people deserve much better than this "

5. Asserting that the President was left with “no choice” but to refuse to comply with the impeachment process

"
Because participating in this inquiry under the current unconstitutional posture would inflict lasting institutional harm on the Executive Branch and lasting damage to the separation of powers, you have left the President no choice. "

6. Arguing that the Democrats’ “constitutionally illegitimate proceedings” are a distraction to Trump

"
For the foregoing reasons, the President cannot allow your constitutionally illegitimate proceedings to distract him and those in the Executive Branch from their work on behalf of the American people. "

The White House took issue with the House not holding a floor vote to initiate the impeachment inquiry. But a senior administration official declined to say whether the White House would cooperate with the probe if such an action were taken.

“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.”

Tierney Sneed contributed reporting.

Read Cipollone’s full letter below:

Latest News
Comments are now Members-Only

Non-members are still able to read comments, but will no longer be able to participate. To join the conversation, sign up now and get:

30% Off Annual Prime Membership

TPM strives to build as inclusive a community as financially possible. We offer FREE memberships to those experiencing financial hardship and FREE memberships for students.

View all options
Comments
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Publisher:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: