The White House says it will not participate in Wednesday impeachment hearing by the House Judiciary Committee.
Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler invited U.S. President Donald Trump and his counsel to attend the committee’s first hearing as the impeachment inquiry moves into its next phase.
While no one expected Trump to attend – he plans to be at a NATO summit near London this week – White House counsel Pat Cipollone is also declining the invitation.
“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,” Cipollone said in a letter to Nadler late Sunday.
Cipollone said he will reply by the end of the week on whether the White House would appear at future hearings.
Nadler assured Trump and his counsel in his invitation letter last week that he “remains committed to ensuring a fair and informative process.”
He said Trump has the “opportunity to be represented in the impeachment hearings, or he can stop complaining about the process.”
Wednesday’s Judiciary Committee hearing will focus on the constitutional grounds surrounding impeaching a president. The yet-to-be-named witnesses will be legal experts.
The Intelligence Committee, which held a series of public and closed-room hearings last month, will send its findings to the Judiciary Committee, whose members will decide whether to draw up articles of impeachment against Trump.
Possible charges that could lead to his impeachment include bribery and high crimes and misdemeanors.
Trump is accused of holding up nearly $400 million in badly-needed military aid to Ukraine in exchange for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s public commitment to investigate Trump’s 2020 presidential rival Joe Biden for alleged corruption.
Biden’s son, Hunter, sat on the board of the Ukrainian gas company Burisma. Trump alleges that when Biden was vice president, he threatened to hold up U.S. loan guarantees to Ukraine unless the government fired a prosecutor who was investigating Burisma.
Trump also insists it was Ukraine, not Russia that interfered in the 2016 U.S. election on behalf of Democrats.
No evidence against the Bidens has ever surfaced and the charge against Ukraine was based on a debunked conspiracy theory that originated in Russia.
Trump has denied any wrongdoing and calls the impeachment inquiry a hoax.
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