The White House has announced that it will not participate in the first public hearing to which it had been invited within the Lower House investigation for a impeachment trial of U.S. President Donald Trump, a decision that underscores its willingness to delegitimize that inquiry.
The president of the House Judiciary Committee, Democrat Jerrold Nadler, had invited Trump’s lawyers to participate in the first public hearing to be held by the panel he leads, scheduled for Wednesday, May 4.
White House attorney Pat Cipollone sent a letter to Nadler on Sunday stating, “Under the current circumstances, we do not plan to participate in his hearing on Wednesday”.
Cipollone did not rule out that the White House or Trump could send attorneys to future hearings in the Judicial Committee, and assured that they will give a response before the deadline set by Nadler, next Friday 6.
Legal experts are expected to appear at Wednesday’s hearing to discuss the constitutional precedents of political trials, and in his letter, Cipollone insinuated that the White House considers it a session of minor importance, stressing that it does not include “any witnesses related to the facts.
The White House attorney argued that there are “countless process deficiencies that have infected the investigation,” and that “an academic discussion with law professors does not provide the president with a shred of a fair trial.
The decision illustrates the White House’s determination to boycott a process it has attempted to delegitimize since it began in September, a dynamic that has had its greatest exponent in Trump’s blockade of several key witnesses.
Absent from the hearing, the White House will leave to its allies, such as Republican Congressman Jim Jordan, the task of convincing Americans that Trump does not deserve a impeachment because of his pressures on Ukraine.
The Lower House Judiciary Committee will be the panel charged with determining whether to draft charges against the president, known as impeachment articles.
To do so, it will rely on a report of evidence against Trump that has been written by another panel, the Intelligence Committee, which on Monday night will meet to review that key document and on Tuesday will vote to approve it and transmit it to the Judicial Committee.
If that panel drafts and approves charges against Trump, the full House would vote to decide whether to give the green light to an impeachment hearing in the Senate, where Republicans have the majority and Democrats will have a hard time getting the necessary margin to remove the president.
The investigation is based on Trump’s pressure to get the Ukrainian government to investigate whether former U.S. Vice President and Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden was corrupt in his dealings with Ukraine when he was in power in 2016 and his son Hunter had ties to the Ukrainian gas company Burisma.
Trump has acknowledged that he pressured Ukraine to investigate Biden, but has denied that this was the reason he withheld nearly $400 million in military aid to the country, or the reason he procrastinated on Ukrainian President Volodymir Zelenski’s attempts to meet him at the White House.