WASHINGTON [Reuters] – The White House will not attend the next House Judiciary Committee impeachment hearing, a senior Trump administration official said on Friday in another sign that the president has accepted that he will likely be impeachment of the House.
The decision came in a letter from White House attorney Pat Cipollone ahead of Friday night's deadline set by Democratic Judge Committee President Jerrold Nadler of New York.
The two-paragraph letter did not expressly indicate the White House's refusal to participate. But a senior government official told the Associated Press, after the two-paragraph letter was released, that this was the point he intended to communicate.
In the letter, Cipollone accuses House Democrats of leading the investigation of wasting US time "with this farce" and accuses the adoption of impeachment articles against US President Donald Trump as "reckless abuse of power". "
"Whatever course you choose, as the president recently stated,` If you are going to accuse me, do it now, quickly, so that we can have a fair trial in the Senate and our country can get back to business, ' Cipollone wrote, quoting a tweet from Trump this week.
The decision comes a day after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that she had instructed the chairmen of the committee leading the inquiry into Trump's negotiations with Ukraine to move forward with the preparation of impeachment articles. Trump is accused of abusing his power and compromising national security, urging the Ukrainian president to investigate his Democratic political rivals as his government was withholding crucial security aid for the country.
Nadler said the House was disappointed by Trump's decision, given complaints by the president and his allies that the process was unfair.
"If the president does not have a good response to the accusations, he would not want to appear before the committee," Nadler said in a written statement. "Having declined this opportunity, he cannot claim that the process is unfair. The president's failure will not prevent us from fulfilling our solemn constitutional duty."
Pelosi said on Friday, when asked about the possibility of the White House refusing to participate, that this was the opportunity for the president to "show innocence."
"But they are guilty, which is why they may not show up," she told reporters.
The White House faced a deadline Friday night to inform the House Judiciary Committee if it intended to have legal representation at a hearing scheduled for Monday that will focus on the House's Intelligence Committee report, recently describing its findings. against Trump.
The White House also declined to attend Wednesday's first hearing of the Judiciary Committee, which featured legal experts describing the history of impeachment and its constitutional role.
Trump and his advisers made it clear that they now see his impeachment in the House as inevitable and have shifted their focus to the Senate, where Trump's allies remain confident that Democrats will not have votes to condemn him and remove him from office.
Associated Press writer Zeke Miller contributed to this report.