White House won't take part in 'unfair' impeachment hearing

Nellie Chapman
December 3, 2019

House Republicans on Monday released a report ripping Democrats' impeachment proceedings, arguing that the evidence collected in the probe so far does not support the accusations leveled against President Trump or rise to the level of removal from office.

For weeks, the House Intelligence Committee has gathered evidence from Trump administration officials that Trump pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to announce an investigation into 2020 candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, who once sat on the board of a Ukrainian energy company. It was being made available for committee members to review ahead of a vote on Tuesday before it is sent to the Judiciary Committee for Wednesday's landmark hearing.

"The first person who needs to testify is Adam Schiff", Rep. Doug Collins (R., Ga.) told Fox News.

According to testimony and a rough transcript of a July phone call by Trump to the Ukrainian president, Trump wanted Ukraine to announce investigations that would harm his political rival, Democrat Joe Biden, and bolster a debunked theory that Ukraine meddled in the 2016 USA presidential election.

House Intelligence Committee ranking member Devin Nunes of California, Oversight Committee ranking member Jim Jordan of OH and Foreign Affairs Committee ranking member Michael McCaul of Texas wrote the minority report. "If you noticed there was breaking news today, the Ukrainian president came out and said very strongly that President Trump did absolutely nothing wrong, that should be case over". "Democrats say this pressure campaign encompassed leveraging a White House meeting and the release of USA security assistance to force the Ukrainian President to succumb to President Trump's political wishes". Trump released a transcript of the call after the inquiry was announced and has said it was "a flawless call".

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The attack took place near the West African country's border with Niger , a troubled area where numerous extremist groups are now active.

"This is one of the most important journeys that we make as president".

White House counsel Pat Cipollone accused the Committee of a "complete lack of due process and fundamental fairness", adding President Trump would not have enough time to prepare for the event.

"Under the current circumstances, we do not intend to participate in your Wednesday hearing", Cipollone wrote to Nadler. "If the President thinks the call was "perfect" and there is nothing to hide then he would turn over the thousands of pages of documents requested by Congress, allow witnesses to testify instead of blocking testimony with baseless privilege claims, and provide any exculpatory information that refutes the overwhelming evidence of his abuse of power".

Now that things are moving from the House Intelligence Committee to the Judiciary Committee-which will examine the evidence and decide whether or not to draft articles of impeachment and what those will entail-committee chairman Jerrold Nadler has asked Trump if he wants to present his defense. McClintock said he doesn't believe Trump did anything wrong in the July 25 call with Zelensky that is at the heart of the investigation.

However, Schiff's committee failed to prove Trump had taken action to withhold military aid from Ukraine. "He also doesn't use the smarmy talk of politicians", McClintock said. Few Senate Republicans have shown an appetite for removing the president. "It'll be a live issue through the election itself, and the American people will make the final determination", Republican Representative Tom Cole told Reuters news agency.

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