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.”
“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:
Gregg Nunziata: The White House's letter "reads like a very political document" pic.twitter.com/iEvZgdqyov
— TPM Livewire (@TPMLiveWire) October 9, 2019
Below are some of the most gobsmacking lines in the letter:
- Characterizing the impeachment inquiry as a “dangerous path”
2. Accusing House Democrats of attempting to “overturn” Trump’s 2016 win
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.
4. Theorizing that the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry risks “deepening divisions in the country”
5. Asserting that the President was left with “no choice” but to refuse to comply with the impeachment process
6. Arguing that the Democrats’ “constitutionally illegitimate proceedings” are a distraction to Trump
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: