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White House rejects House Judiciary's invitation to participate in impeachment hearings

In a brief letter to the committee chairman, the White House counsel sharply attacked the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.
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WASHINGTON — The White House on Friday rejected an invitation to take part in impeachment hearings before the House Judiciary Committee.

In a brief letter to Committee Chairman Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., White House counsel Pat Cipollone sharply attacked the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump as "completely baseless" and said House Democrats had "violated basic principles of due process and fundamental fairness."

Cipollone did not explicitly answer whether the White House would take part in the Judiciary Committee hearing scheduled for Monday, but a senior administration official told NBC News "the letter means that the White House will not participate in the House proceeding."

"House Democrats have wasted enough of America's time with this charade. You should end this inquiry now and not waste even more time with additional hearings," Cipollone wrote.

"Adopting articles of impeachment would be a reckless abuse of power by House Democrats, and would constitute the most unjust, highly partisan, and unconstitutional attempt at impeachment in our Nation's history," he wrote. "Whatever course you choose, as the President has recently stated: 'if you are going to impeach me, do it now, fast, so we can have a fair trial in the Senate, and so that our Country can get back to business.'"

Nadler sent a letter to the president last Friday asking if his counsel would be participating in the panel's impeachment hearings, setting a 5 p.m. ET deadline Friday for a response.

The House-passed resolution outlining procedures for the inquiry allowed the president or his counsel to present their case and respond to evidence, submit written requests for additional testimony or other evidence, attend hearings, raise an objection to testimony given and cross-examine witnesses.

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It also said, however, that if the president were to refuse to cooperate with congressional requests, the chair would be able to "impose appropriate remedies, including by denying specific requests by the President or his counsel.”

Nadler also sent a letter to Ranking Member Doug Collins, R-Ga., last Friday that said he had until Dec. 6 to indicate whether he wanted the issuance of a subpoena or some sort of written question in the investigation.

An aide to Republicans on the Judiciary Committee responded by accusing Nadler of failing to respond to their previous letters outlining concerns with the process, and complaining that he was "rushing to set new deadlines before he has even received the Intelligence Committee’s report,” which was released the following Monday.

On Friday evening, just after the White House responded to Nadler, Collins released a letter listing witnesses that Republicans were seeking to call, including Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif.; the anonymous whistleblower; "all individuals relied upon by the anonymous whistleblower in drafting his or her complaint;" an intelligence community employee who spoke with Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman about the July 25 phone call; Devon Archer, former board member at Burisma; Hunter Biden; Nellie Ohr, a former contractor at Fusion GPS; and Alexandra Chalupa, a former staffer at the Democratic National Committee.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., announced Thursday that she had asked committee chairmen to craft articles of impeachment against the president.

The Judiciary Committee on Monday plans to hold its next impeachment hearing in which lawmakers will hear evidence presented by Democratic and GOP counsels to the House Intelligence Committee.