Citing House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-CA), the “fundamental unfairness” of the impeachment hearings and a perceived attempt to ignore “historical precedent,” the White House officially declined the House’s offer to have the President participate in impeachment proceedings this week.
In a letter to House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler (D-NY) on Sunday, White House counsel Pat Cipollone declined to participate in Wednesday’s hearing and dragged Nadler for scheduling it while Trump is in the midst of travel to London for the NATO summit and for not providing the White House with enough information about intended witnesses. He left the door open to participate in upcoming proceedings and demanded additional information about whether Intelligence Committee ranking member Devin Nunes (R-CA) would be allowed to be called as a witness. Cipollone also asked Nadler to clarify if Trump’s counsel would be allowed to cross examine and call other witnesses of their choosing.
“It is too late to cure the profound procedural deficiencies that have tainted this entire inquiry. Nevertheless, if you are serious about conducting a fair process going forward, and in order to protect the rights and privileges of the President, we may consider participating in future Judiciary Committee proceedings if you afford the administration the ability to do so meaningfully,” Cipollone wrote Sunday.
“As you have acknowledged, the House’s ‘power of impeachment … demands a rigorous level of due process,’ and in this context ‘due process mean[s] … the right to confront witnesses against you, to call your own witnesses, and to have the assistance of counsel.’ So far, all of these rights have been violated. Even at this late date, it is not yet clear whether you will afford the President at least these basic, fundamental rights or continue to deny them,” he said.
Nadler responded to the rejection in a statement on Monday, calling the decision “unfortunate” and railing against Trump for blocking the release of key documents.
“Late last night, the President and his counsel turned down our invitation to participate in Wednesday’s hearing. His response is unfortunate because allowing the President to participate has been a priority for the House from the outset. That is why the House included the opportunity to participate in H. Res 660,” Nadler said.
“The American people deserve transparency. If the President thinks the call was ‘perfect’ and there is nothing to hide then he would turn over the thousands of pages of documents requested by Congress, allow witnesses to testify instead of blocking testimony with baseless privilege claims, and provide any exculpatory information that refutes the overwhelming evidence of his abuse of power.”
Schiff intends to deliver his report on impeachment proceedings from the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, tossing the inquiry over to Nadler and the Judiciary Committee.
Read the full White House letter below: