Sunday evening, White House Counsel Pat Cipollone sent a five-page letter to the House Judiciary Committee declaring that the Trump administration will not participate in the “baseless and highly partisan” impeachment hearing on Wednesday.
The letter was addressed to “The Honorable Jerrold Nadler … Chairman, Committee on the Judiciary.”
“As you know, this baseless and highly partisan inquiry violates all past historical precedent, basic due process rights, and fundamental fairness,” the letter stated.
“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,” wrote Cipollone.
“We understand from rumors and press reports (though not from any notice provided in your letter or in the official notice of the hearing) that the hearing will consist of an academic discussion by law professors,” said the WH attorney. “We understand this to mean that your initial hearing will include no fact witnesses at all.”
After decrying the arbitrary revision of a previously set deadline for the president to decide about participation, and the failure of the committee providing any information about future hearings to include a schedule, the White House counsel wrote that the developing actions are simply “all to create the false appearance of providing the President some rudimentary process.”
“More importantly, an invitation to an academic discussion with law professors does not begin to provide the President with any semblance of a fair process,” Cipollone wrote in the letter’s scathing rejection of the invitation to take part in the hearing. “Accordingly, under the current circumstances, we do not intend to participate in your Wednesday hearing.”
Cipollone also blasted the Democrats for ramrodding the process through in the most one-sided ways possible, to include scheduling the meeting for a time that they knew that the president would be out of the country at the NATO Leaders Meeting in London.
The Democrats’ process “violates all past historical precedent, basic due process rights, and fundamental fairness,” wrote the White House counsel.
Cipollone took issue with the entire impeachment process to date.
“Although your letter attempts to invoke precedent from the Clinton impeachment inquiry, you have completely ignored not only the process followed then, but all other historical precedent. For example, when the Judiciary Committee scheduled a similar hearing during the Clinton impeachment process, it allowed those questioning the witnesses two-and-a-half weeks’ notice to prepare, and it scheduled the hearing on a date suggested by the President’s attorneys. Today, by contrast, you have afforded the President no scheduling input, no meaningful information, and so little time to prepare that you have effectively denied the Administration a fair opportunity to participate,” he wrote.
“Past inquiries … did not authorize one set of committees to conduct two rounds of hearings with witnesses (one round in secret and another in public) while prohibiting the President from any opportunity to participate,” he pointed out. “Nor did these past inquiries continue to deny those rights to the President even in a third round of hearings before yet another committee, the Judiciary Committee. In other impeachment proceedings, the President’s counsel was not excluded from the hearings that took testimony from fact witnesses, nor was the President denied the right of cross examination during those hearings.”
“[I]n both of those proceedings, the minority party had co-equal subpoena authority. Here, by contrast, the ranking member of this Committee cannot force a vote on subpoenas that you choose to issue, but you can force committee votes on the ranking member’s subpoenas,” he added.
In spite of the kangaroo-court nature of the process to date, Cipollone left open the door for the administration to participate in the future, writing: “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. 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.”
Read the entire letter below:
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