United States President Donald Trump will only address the impeachment charges announced on Tuesday during the Senate trial phase of the proceedings, the White House said.
“The President will address these false charges in the Senate and expects to be fully exonerated, because he did nothing wrong,” White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a Tuesday statement.
The White House on Sunday, 1 Dec. said that the U.S. President and his lawyers would not participate in Wednesday’s impeachment inquiry hearing but did not rule out taking part in future hearings, citing a lack of “fundamental fairness.”
The Democratic-led House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, tasked with considering charges known as articles of impeachment, had given Trump until 6 p.m. (2300 GMT) on Sunday to say whether he would dispatch a lawyer to take part in the judiciary panel’s proceedings on Wednesday.
“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 wrote to Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler of New York.
Cipollone – while citing a “complete lack of due process and fundamental fairness afforded the president” in the impeachment process
Jerrold Lewis Nadler, U.S. representative for New York, has given the White House a deadline of 5 pm on Friday for Trump to decide whether to present proceedings next week to examine the evidence.
Cipollone on Sunday accused Nadler of creating “the false appearance of providing the President some rudimentary process” by releasing no information about plans for upcoming hearings.
“You have given no information regarding your plans, set arbitrary deadlines, and then demanded a response, all to create the false appearance of providing the President some rudimentary process,” he wrote.
The Judiciary Committee’s Democratic staff did not immediately reply to a request for comment on the White House’s refusal to participate in the hearing, which would have been the first direct involvement by the Trump camp in a process he has condemned as a partisan “witch hunt.”
Democratic US Representative Don Beyer said on Twitter in response to the White House letter: “Not one process complaint made by the President and his Republican allies in Congress so far has turned out to be genuine.”
The president and his Republican allies in Congress say the inquiry has been rushed and unfair to Trump by not allowing the White House to have legal counsel present or call witnesses during weeks of closed-door testimony and open hearings before the House Intelligence Committee.
Yet, Republican lawmakers were able to question witnesses during the closed hearings, and called three witnesses during public hearings that wrapped up last week.
The House Judiciary Committee could vote on whether to recommend articles of impeachment within the next two weeks, setting the stage for a possible impeachment vote by the full House before Christmas, according to Democratic aides.
If the House of Representative decides to hold Trump, the Republican dominated Senate will go on trial to determine whether Trump should be removed from office. Senate Republicans have shown little appetite for removing Trump.
A court ruling expected on Monday could give cover to former national security advisor John Bolton and other administration officials to cooperate in the impeachment inquiry against the U.S. President, legal experts said.
The Democratic-controlled U.S. House of Representatives is investigating whether Trump abused his power by pressing Ukraine to carry out investigations that would benefit him politically, including one targeting political rival Joe Biden.
Trump on Monday questioned whether he and his allies could go to the Supreme Court to halt the House impeachment inquiry.
Trump tweeted shortly after arriving in the United Kingdom for two days of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) meetings that he had read House Republicans’ draft defence in which his allies insist there was no evidence of wrongdoing in Trump’s interactions with Ukraine.
“Great job! Radical Left has NO CASE,” Trump tweeted. “Read the Transcripts. Shouldn’t even be allowed. Can we go to Supreme Court to stop?”
Judiciary Committee on Wednesday will hold its first hearing in the impeachment inquiry, titled “The Impeachment Inquiry into President Donald J. Trump: Constitutional Grounds for Presidential Impeachment.” The panel will hear from legal scholars as Democrats weigh whether the evidence turned up in their weeks-long impeachment inquiry warrants the drafting of articles aimed at removing the president from office.
Trump said on Tuesday an impeachment inquiry against him was a “hoax” being used by the Democrats for political gain ahead of next year’s presidential election.
Democrats have been looking into Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate political rival Joe Biden, the former U.S. vice president who is seeking the Democratic nomination to face Trump in the 2020 election, and his son Hunter Biden, who was a board member of a Ukrainian energy company.
Asked about the inquiry during a visit to London for a NATO Summit, Trump said: “The impeachment thing is a hoax, it has turned out to be a hoax. It is done for purely political gain, They are going to see whether or not they can do something in 2020 because otherwise they are going to lose.”
U.S. House Democrats unveiled two articles of impeachment on Tuesday, charging President Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress in his dealings with Ukraine and the Democratic-led impeachment inquiry that followed.
The move sets in motion a process that will probably move to a trial in the U.S. Senate.
Here is what will likely happen in coming days:
Wednesday, 11 Dec.
The House Judiciary Committee will meet at 7 p.m. (0000 GMT) on Wednesday and continue on Thursday morning to debate the articles that Democrats have brought forward and vote on whether to recommend them to the full House of Representatives for a final impeachment vote.
Week of 15 Dec.
The House would be expected to vote on the charges, possibly after holding a daylong debate that could involve all 431 of its current legislators. If the full House voted to approve the articles, Trump would become only the third president in U.S. history to be impeached. He would remain in office, however, pending a trial in the Senate.
If the impeachment is approved, the House would select lawmakers known as managers to present the case against Trump at a Senate trial. House Democrats say most of the managers are likely to come from the Judiciary Committee, and possibly from the Intelligence Committee that led the investigation.