White House tells Democrats it won't participate in Trump impeachment hearings

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi D-Calif. makes a statement at the Capitol in Washington Thursday Dec. 5 2019

Surprising pretty much no one, the White House isn't participating in upcoming House impeachment hearings.

"Adopting articles of impeachment would be a reckless abuse of power by House Democrats", White House counsel Pat Cipollone said in a letter on Friday to Jerry Nadler, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee that is leading the Trump impeachment proceedings.

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

"House Democrats have wasted enough of America's time with this charade", Cipollone wrote.

"As you know, your impeachment inquiry is completely baseless and has violated basic principles of due process and fundamental fairness", Cipollone said.

Following direction from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the committee is set to draft and recommend the articles by December 12, after more than two months investigating, interviewing witnesses and holding hearings into whether the Republican president abused the power of his office.

Three of four constitutional law scholars who testified at the Wednesday hearing said it was clear that President Trump committed impeachable offenses.

The letter finishes by reminding the committee that President Trump has called - if the impeachment process continues - for a "fair trial in the Senate" to happen soon. In a statement Nadler accused Trump of continuing to block "key evidence" from Congress.

A Senate vote requires a two-thirds majority to convict and remove the president - unlikely in this case, given that Mr Trump's party controls the chamber. Nadler's committee is to meet starting Monday to review the evidence from investigators and decide whether to charge Trump with abuse of power, bribery and obstruction.

Trump denies wrongdoing and has not cooperated with the investigation, which he calls a hoax. Senate Republicans have given little indication they would support Trump's removal. Democrats also say Trump's actions amount to soliciting foreign interference in American elections - which is barred by U.S. laws.

In addition they are demanding the Republicans get to call an equal number of witnesses as to Democrats. Trump is accused of pressuring Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to open investigations into Biden and his son, and also into a widely-dismissed theory that Ukraine helped Democrats in the 2016 election.

Hunter Biden joined the board of Ukrainian energy company Burisma while his father was vice president.

Democrats also have accused Trump of abusing his power by withholding $391 million USA in congressionally approved security aid to Ukraine - a vulnerable U.S. ally facing Russian aggression - and holding back a coveted White House meeting with Zelensky as leverage to pressure Kyiv into investigating the Bidens.



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