The White House on Sunday informed Democratic lawmakers that neither United States President Donald Trump nor his lawyers would participate in a congressional impeachment hearing this week. Reuters reported. It said it was boycotting the hearing because there was no “semblance of a fair process”.
Jerrold Nadler, who is the Democratic chairperson of the House Judiciary Committee, had last week asked the president’s counsel to either attend the hearing on Wednesday or “stop complaining about the process”.
“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,” White House counsel Pat Cipollone said in a letter to Nadler. “Accordingly, under the current circumstances, we do not intend to participate in your Wednesday hearing.”
Cipollone argued that a “complete lack of due process and fundamental fairness afforded the president” in the impeachment inquiry. However, the counsel did not rule out their participation in further proceedings. “We may consider participating in future Judiciary Committee proceedings if you afford the administration the ability to do so meaningfully,” Cipollone added.
The counsel listed their demands in the letter and asked the Democrats to allow additional Republican witnesses to testify.
The Trump administration has repeatedly refused to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry as well as other Democratic-led investigations. It has also directed current and former officials to defy subpoenas for documents and testimony.
The impeachment inquiry focuses on a July 25 phone conversation between the US president and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Trump had asked his Ukrainian counterpart to investigate Joe Biden, who is currently running against Trump as a Democratic candidate in the presidential elections slated for next year. Trump also asked for Biden’s son Hunter Biden, who had served as a director for Ukrainian energy company Burisma, to be investigated.
After weeks of closed-door witness depositions and televised hearings, three investigating panels led by the House Intelligence Committee is likely to release a formal report soon on the investigations. On Wednesday, the judiciary panel is expected to hold a hearing to examine the evidence report and further proceedings to consider formal articles of impeachment.