The White House told Democrats they should end the impeachment investigation on Friday, shortly before US President Donald Trump let pass a deadline to agree to participate in the House Judiciary Committee hearing.
In a letter addressed to committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), White House Counsel Pat Cipollone called the proceedings “baseless” and a “charade.”
“House Democrats have wasted enough of America’s time with this charade,” Cipollone wrote. “You should end this inquiry now and not waste even more time with additional hearings.”
He added: “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.”
Nadler responded to Cipollone’s letter on Friday in a statement saying, “The American people deserve answers from President Trump.”
“We gave President Trump a fair opportunity to question witnesses and present his own to address the overwhelming evidence before us. After listening to him complain about the impeachment process, we had hoped that he might accept our invitation,” Nadler wrote.
He added: “If the President has no good response to the allegations, then he would not want to appear before the Committee. Having declined this opportunity, he cannot claim that the process is unfair. The President’s failure will not prevent us from carrying out our solemn constitutional duty.”
A senior White House official, who asked to remain anonymous, told HuffPost on Friday: “We don’t see any reason to participate because the process is unfair. Speaker Pelosi has already announced the predetermined result. They will not give us the ability to call any witnesses.”
The Judiciary Committee took over the impeachment hearings this week from the House Intelligence Committee, which earlier questioned a host of current and former administration officials to determine if Trump had acted improperly when he pressured the leader of Ukraine to investigate his political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, and Biden’s son Hunter.
The witnesses testified that Trump waged an explicit campaign for a quid pro quo, demanding that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky open probes into the Bidens and into a discredited 2016 conspiracy theory in exchange for the release of nearly $400 million in military aid and a prestigious visit to the White House.
Trump has denied any wrongdoing, referring to the July 25 call as “perfect” and accusing Democrats of attempting to undermine the 2016 election results.
The Trump administration faced a 5 p.m. deadline on Friday to say whether it wanted to participate in a Judiciary Committee hearing on Monday. The panel is expected to hear from Intelligence Committee lawyers that day regarding their investigation into the president’s actions.