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White House Says It Won’t Participate in Impeachment Hearing

WASHINGTON – The House impeachment report is expected to take place behind closed doors on Monday, ahead of the first hearings set for Wednesday by the judicial committee which the lawyer of President Donald Trump said will not attend.
The US House Intelligence Impeachment Report on President Donald Trump will be unveiled for key lawmakers behind closed doors on Monday as Democrats push forward despite the White House’s statement that it will not take part in the Judiciary Committee’s first hearing.
The White House said it would not attend Wednesday’s impeachment hearings of the House Judiciary Committee on Sunday.
The Democratic majority on the House Intelligence Committee says its report will speak for itself in laying out potential bribery charges or “high crimes and misdemeanours,” the constitutional standard for impeachment. Chairman Adam Schiff said the president’s actions towards Ukraine will contain evidence of “wrongdoing and misconduct.”
The Judiciary Committee would prepare the actual charges after receiving the report.
The first hearing of that committee was scheduled for Wednesday and was expected to include four legal experts who will examine constitutional issues as the committee decides whether to write impeachment articles against Trump and, if so, what those articles would be.
“This baseless and highly partisan investigation contradicts all past historical precedents, basic due process rights, and fundamental justice,” said Pat Cipollone, White House counsel, continuing the West Wing assault on the nature of the impeachment proceedings.
On Wednesday, Trump himself is scheduled to attend a meeting outside London with NATO allies.
The letter from Cipollone applied only to the hearing on Wednesday, and he asked Democrats for more information on how they intended to conduct further hearings before Trump would decide whether to participate in those hearings.
House-passed rules provide the president and his attorneys with the right to cross-examine witnesses and examine evidence before the committee, but little ability to present their own witnesses.
Meanwhile, Republicans wanted Schiff, the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, to testify before the Judiciary Committee, although they had no power to compel him to do so, as they joined the White House effort to try to skew the Democratic-led investigation against the Republican president.
“If he wants not to (testify), then I really doubt his honesty in what he puts in his report,” said Rep. Doug Collins, the Judiciary Committee’s top Republican.
“Hiding behind a report is easy,” Collins added. “But it’s going to be something else to really get up and answer questions.” Schiff said, “There’s nothing for me to testify about,” that he’s not a “truth” witness, and that Republicans are just trying to “mollify the president, and that’s not a legitimate reason to try to call a Congressman as a witness.”
The conclusions of the report of the Intelligence Committee were not yet publicly known following two weeks of public testimony and two months of investigation. But the report was expected to focus mostly on whether Trump abused his office by withholding Congress-approved military aid and a meeting of the White House as he pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to launch investigations into Trump’s political rivals.
Democrats were also expected to include an article on Congress obstruction outlining Trump’s instructions to officials in his administration to defy paper or testimony subpoenas.
Democrats aimed for a final Christmas House vote that would set the stage for a probable January Senate trial.
“I believe that all the evidence will certainly be included in that report so that the Judiciary Committee can make the necessary decisions,” said Representative Val Demings, a member of the Intelligence and Judiciary committees.
She said Democrats had not yet confirmed witnesses for the upcoming court hearings and waited to hear Trump’s plans to offer a defence back.
“We’re all anxious to hear his justification of that if he didn’t do anything wrong,” Demings said.
Trump had previously suggested that he might be willing to offer written testimony under certain conditions, although assistants suggested that they would never accept Democrats.
“Read the Transcripts, it was not done or said it was false!” Saturday, Trump tweeted.
Democrats had urged Trump to decide by Friday whether he would take advantage of proper process protections granted to him under House rules adopted in October for follow-up hearings, including the right to seek witness testimony and cross-examine the House’s appointed witnesses.
“If you are serious about going ahead with a fair process and preserving the President’s rights and privileges, we will consider engaging in potential hearings of the Judiciary Committee if you grant the Administration the opportunity to do so in a meaningful manner,” Cipollone said in his Sunday letter.
“Why would they just want to take part in another re-run?” Collins asked, adding that the Judiciary Committee had previously heard about unjustifiable offences from constitutional scholars during the review into Russia by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
“This is a total American waste of time here,” Collins said, calling on the chairman of the committee, Jerrold Nadler, to expand the list of witnesses to include those sought by Republicans.
“That’s why this is a troubled practice and just a made-for-TV occurrence coming Wednesday.”
Also, a member of the Judiciary Committee, Republican Tom McClintock of California, said he thought Trump would benefit if he provided his own defence.
“I think it would be advantageous for the president to have his lawyers there. That’s up to him,” he said.
McClintock said in the July 25 call with Zelenskiy, which is at the heart of the investigation, he did nothing wrong with Trump.
“In that conversation, he didn’t use the delicate language of diplomacy, that’s true. He’s also not using politicians’ smart talk,” McClintock said.
(Sahar News Monitoring Desk)

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