White House will not participate in Wednesday's impeachment hearing

White House Counsel Pat Cipollone left open the possibility that President Donald Trump may participate in future hearings.
Image: President Donald Trump waves after disembarking Air Force One upon arriving in Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, U.S., after his Thanksgiving vacation
President Donald Trump disembarks Air Force One upon arriving at Joint Base Andrews after his Thanksgiving vacation. Yuri Gripas / Reuters

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By Kelly O'Donnell and Tim Stelloh

The White House said Sunday it will not participate in the House Judiciary Committee's first impeachment hearing on Wednesday but left open the possibility that it may take part in future proceedings.

In a letter to committee chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., White House Counsel Pat Cipollone called the hearing, which will explore the “historical and constitutional basis of impeachment,” unfair.

"An academic discussion cannot retroactively fix an irretrievably broken process," Cipollone said.

He added that it wasn’t clear who was expected to attend the hearing and that President Donald Trump would be in London that day attending a NATO meeting.

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The letter asserted that “all” of Trump’s due process rights had been violated by the House impeachment inquiry into the president's dealings with Ukraine. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the inquiry in September.

Last month, House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff concluded a fact-finding effort that he said generated “overwhelming evidence” that Trump abused his office. The Intelligence Committee is scheduled to vote Tuesday on the report, which will make the case for the president's removal from office.

But Cipolline said Schiff had attempted to “concoct a false narrative.”

“Inviting the administration now to participate in an after-the-fact constitutional law seminar with yet-to-be-named witnesses only demonstrates further the countless procedural deficiencies that have infected this inquiry from its inception and shows the lack of seriousness with which you are undertaking these proceedings,” Cipolline said.

If Nadler is “serious about a fair process,” Cipolline added, the president may participate in future hearings.

Nadler had invited Trump and his lawyers last week to attend the hearing, urging the president in a letter to “stop complaining about the process” and instead take part in it.

“I hope that he chooses to participate in the inquiry, directly or through counsel, as other Presidents have done before him,” Nadler said.

Nadler had not publicly responded to Cipolline's letter Sunday night.