White House counsel Pat Cipollone informed the House Judiciary Committee late Sunday that President Donald Trump and his lawyers will not participate in the panel’s first impeachment hearing this week, a move Democratic lawmakers highlighted as further evidence that the president’s repeated complaints about lack of due process have been completely empty.
“Not one process complaint made by the president and his Republican allies in Congress so far has turned out to be genuine,” tweeted Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.).
In a letter (pdf) to Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Cipollone described the impeachment proceedings as unfair and said the president will not take part in the scheduled Wednesday hearing, which will feature a panel of constitutional scholars and law professors.
“Under the current circumstances, we do not intend to participate in your Wednesday hearing,” Cipollone wrote to Nadler. “It is too late to cure the profound procedural deficiencies that have tainted this entire inquiry. 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’s letter comes less than a week after Nadler formally invited Trump and his attorneys to attend and participate in the December 4 hearing.
“The committee’s impeachment inquiry rules allow for the president to attend the hearing and for his counsel to question the witness panel,” Nadler said in a statement last Tuesday. “At base, the president has a choice to make: he can take this opportunity to be represented in the impeachment hearings, or he can stop complaining about the process.”
The essence of due process is notice and an opportunity to be heard. Trump received notice of impeachment in House Intel but refused to allow his aides to testify and a chance to be heard. Now he is refusing a hearing in House Judiciary. He is getting, but waiving, due process.
— Ted Boutrous (@BoutrousTed) December 2, 2019
Trump and his GOP allies in Congress have repeatedly decried the House impeachment proceedings as a “sham,” even as Republicans have been allowed to participate in hearings and question witnesses both behind closed doors and in public.
In October, the president called the impeachment inquiry a “lynching,” sparking widespread outrage.
“We’re bending over backward to be fair,” Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), a member of the House Judiciary Committee, tweeted Sunday. “The onus is on President Trump to, for once, behave and engage with Congress. If he has a defense, we on House Judiciary — along with the American people — are eager to hear it.”
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