The White House has written to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and three Democratic committee leaders to say it will not cooperate with the House’s ongoing impeachment inquiry into President Trump, arguing that the investigation “lacks any legitimate constitutional foundation” and “the Executive Branch cannot be expected to participate in it.”
White House counsel Pat Cipollone accused House Democrats in an eight-page letter of making “legally unsupported demands” of the executive branch and accused them of violating the Constitution and past precedent in opening the impeachment inquiry into Trump pressuring Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in a July phone call to launch an investigation into Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, and his son, Hunter Biden.
“Given that your inquiry lacks any legitimate constitutional foundation, any pretense of fairness, or even the most elementary due process protections, the Executive Branch cannot be expected to participate in it,” Cipollone wrote. “Because participating in this inquiry under the current unconstitutional posture would inflict lasting institutional harm on the Executive Branch and lasting damage to the separation of powers, you have left the President no choice.”
“Consistent with the duties of the President of the United States, and in particular his obligation to preserve the rights of future occupants of his office, President Trump cannot permit his Administration to participate in this partisan inquiry under these circumstances,” he wrote.
Top Democrats have warned that the administration’s failure to comply with their requests could be cited as obstruction in future articles of impeachment.
A senior administration official told reporters Tuesday that “asserting rights under the Constitution cannot ever properly be framed as obstruction of justice.”
The letter released by the White House on Tuesday evening describes the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry as “constitutionally invalid” and also asserts that the three committees leading the impeachment inquiry have not afforded Trump the basic due process protections mandated by the Constitution, despite Pelosi’s public assertion that the House would treat Trump with fairness.
“To comply with the Constitution’s demands, appropriate procedures would include-at a minimum-the right to see all evidence, to present evidence, to call witnesses, to have counsel present at all hearings, to cross-examine all witnesses, to make objections relating to the examination of witnesses or the admissibility of testimony and evidence, and to respond to evidence and testimony,” Cipollone wrote.
“Likewise, the Committees must provide for the disclosure of all evidence favorable to the President and all evidence bearing on the credibility of witnesses called to testify in the inquiry,” he added.