The White House notified House Democrats on Sunday that it will not cooperate in the House Judiciary Committee’s first impeachment hearing happening Wednesday.
The determination means that President Donald Trump has hearkened to his allies and some congressional Republicans who claimed that a White House appearance at the hearing would authorize a process they have harangued as illegitimate and partisan.
It also means Trump will lean on his most intimate GOP allies on the panel — including Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio, John Ratcliffe of Texas and Matt Gaetz of Florida — to uprise an impeachment defense during the Judiciary panel’s first hearing on Wednesday.
“Under the current circumstances, we do not intend to participate in your Wednesday hearing,” White House Counsel Pat Cipollone wrote in a letter to Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), adding that “an invitation to an academic discussion with law professors does not begin to provide the president with any semblance of a fair process.”
Nadler had asked Trump to indicate by Sunday whether the president himself or a White House attorney would attend Wednesday’s hearing, an offer that Democrats said was an attempt to afford due process to Trump as he faces a likely impeachment vote before the end of the month.
Nadler has also asked Trump to reveal by the end of the week whether he intends to participate in any aspect of the Judiciary Committee’s impeachment proceedings, which are expected to continue into the following week.
“I remain committed to ensuring a fair and informative process,” Nadler wrote to Trump last week.
Wednesday’s hearing will be largely a discussion of constitutional issues, with lawmakers set to hear from a panel of constitutional scholars and law professors about the impeachment process — and whether an assortment of allegations against Trump meet the threshold of “high crimes and misdemeanors” outlined in the Constitution.