Trump will sit out first impeachment hearing

GOP calls for testimony from chairman Schiff.

Blade News Services
Sun, 01 Dec 2019 20:11:33 GMT

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WASHINGTON — As the impeachment inquiry moves into a critical week, President Trump and his Republican allies are debating the degree to which the President should participate in a process they have spent more than two months attacking.

On Sunday evening, White House counsel Pat Cipollone told the House Judiciary Committee in a five-page letter that President Trump would not participate in its first impeachment hearing, set for Wednesday. The invitation from Chairman Jerrold Nadler “does not begin to provide the President with any semblance of a fair process,” Mr. Cipollone wrote.

Four constitutional scholars — three chosen by Democrats, one by Republicans — are expected to testify on the standards for impeachment. U.S. Rep. Nadler (D., N.Y.) told Mr. Trump he had until 6 p.m. Sunday to notify the committee that he or his attorneys would attend; he has given Mr. Trump until Friday to decide whether to participate more broadly in the impeachment process.

In his letter Sunday, Mr. Cipollone did not rule out participating in future hearings but asked Mr. Nadler to detail his plans for the upcoming proceedings, including whether he would allow further testimony and cross-examination of fact witnesses, among them those who already testified before the House Intelligence Committee. He also said Republicans should be able to call additional witnesses.

“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,” Mr. Cipollone wrote.

Nadler spokesman Daniel Schwarz declined to comment on Mr. Cipollone’s letter.

In the meantime, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee on Sunday called for House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff to testify before the panel in its impeachment hearing.

Georgia Rep. Doug Collins, the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, is the latest ally of President Trump to call for Mr. Schiff, who has been leading House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry into the President and Ukraine, to provide testimony.

The House Intelligence Committee is expected to allow lawmakers to review its impeachment report on Monday ahead of a scheduled vote to approve it Tuesday. That report will detail allegations that Mr. Trump pressured Ukraine to investigate his political rivals to help his 2020 re-election effort, and withheld a White House meeting and $400 million in security aid to Ukraine.

The House Judiciary Committee will then hold its first hearing on Wednesday to consider articles of impeachment, with a panel of expert witnesses testifying.

“First and foremost, the first person that needs to testify is Adam Schiff. Adam Schiff is the author of this report,” Mr. Collins told Fox’s Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday. He said if Mr. Schiff “chooses not to testify, then I really question his veracity and what he’s putting in his report.”

Mr. Schiff told CNN’s Jake Tapper on State of the Union last week that he would not testify in a Senate impeachment trial if the House moves articles of impeachment against Mr. Trump to the chamber. He said calls from Republicans for him to do so signal that “they are not serious about what they are doing.”

Mr. Trump did not address the issue on Sunday. He sent two tweets about World AIDS Day in the early afternoon and spent a second day in a row at his golf course in West Palm Beach, Fla.