After weeks of persistent Republican complaints that the White House was being blocked from defending Donald Trump in the House impeachment inquiry, the White House has apparently decided to take a hard pass on even attempting to defend Trump. About 20 minutes before a 5 PM ET deadline to inform House Democrats if they would participate in House Judiciary Committee hearings, White House counsel Pat Cipollone sent a letter lacing into Judiciary chair Jerrold Nadler, mocking the proceeding and encouraging him to end the inquiry.
“House Democrats have wasted enough of America’s time with this charade,” Cipollone wrote to Nadler, charging that adopting articles of impeachment would a “reckless abuse of power.” While Cipollone failed to state precisely whether the White House would mount a defense of Trump, he seemed anxious to proceed to the trial in the GOP-led Senate, which will presumably provide a more favorable setting for Trump.
“Whatever you choose, as the President has recently stated: ‘if you are going to impeach me, do it now, fast, so we can have a fair trial in the Senate, and so that our Country can get back to business,’” he concluded.
As a nice touch, Cipollone opened the letter by accusing Democrats of violating “basic principles of due process and fundamental fairness” even as he punted on participating.
As House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stated earlier Friday: “Anything they have that is exculpatory, this is their moment … But they have a consciousness of guilt, and that’s why they may not show up. We’ll see. Maybe they will. They have till 5 o’clock.” In short, Trump’s actions are indefensible.
Check out the letter below.
UPDATE: Judiciary chair Jerry Nadler responds: “If the President has no good response to the allegations, then he would not want to appear … Having declined this opportunity, he cannot claim that the process is unfair. The President’s failure will not prevent us from carrying out our solemn constitutional duty.”
JUST IN: The White House tells Congress to just get the impeachment over with — doesn’t directly indicate its plans for participating in the House impeachment hearings. pic.twitter.com/nB5rvAwnZ4
— Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) December 6, 2019