The White House sent a blistering letter to House Democrats on Tuesday declaring that their actions have left President Donald Trump “no choice” but to defy their “partisan and unconstitutional” impeachment inquiry.
The eight-page letter systematically attacks Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and other Democratic leaders for attempting to overturn the 2016 election, Breitbart reports. In effect, the White House called the impeachment “inquiry” a show trial that denies President Trump his basic due process rights.
“President Trump and his administration reject your baseless, unconstitutional efforts to overturn the democratic process,” the letter stated. “Your unprecedented actions have left the president with no choice. In order to fulfill his duties to the American people, the Constitution, the Executive Branch, and all future occupants of the Office of the Presidency, President Trump and his administration cannot participate in your partisan and unconstitutional inquiry under these circumstances.”
WH vows to defy “illegitimate” impeachment
The letter lays out a careful breakdown of the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry, which it presents as a partisan effort that overrides norms of due process. The letter, written on behalf of Trump by White House lawyer Pat Cipollone, notes that Pelosi took the unprecedented step of launching an impeachment inquiry unilaterally at a press conference, rather than by a vote from the House majority.
“In the history of our nation, the House of Representatives has never attempted to launch an impeachment inquiry against the president without a majority of the House taking political accountability for that decision by voting to authorize such a dramatic constitutional step,” the letter stated.
Fox News reports that Cipollone goes on to accuse the Democrats of depriving Trump and Republicans of a fair process by denying Trump “the right to see all evidence, to present evidence, to call witnesses, to have counsel present at all hearings, to cross-examine all witnesses, to make objections relating to the examination of witnesses or the admissibility of testimony and evidence, and to respond to evidence and testimony.” Democrats have also failed to disclose “all evidence favorable to the president and all evidence bearing on the credibility of witnesses called to testify in the inquiry,” the letter argues.
As further proof that Democrats are pursuing a “one-sided” inquiry, Cipollone notes that Democrats have denied Republicans in the House an equal right to subpoena power, in contradiction with the “standard, bipartisan practice in all recent resolutions authorizing presidential impeachment inquiries.” The letter further dings Democrats for threatening White House officials with obstruction charges for invoking “long-established Executive Branch confidentiality interests and privileges in response to a request for a deposition.”
“All of this violates the Constitution, the rule of law, and every past precedent. Never before in our history has the House of Representatives-under the control of either political party-taken the American people down the dangerous path you seem determined to pursue,” the letter reads. “Many Democrats now apparently view impeachment not only as a means to undo the democratic results of the last election, but as a strategy to influence the next election, which is barely more than a year away.”
Dems threaten obstruction charges
In brief, Cipollone blasts Democrats for running roughshod over the constitutional framework created by the Founders to transform impeachment from “an extraordinary remedy that should rarely be contemplated into a conventional political weapon for partisan gain.” The letter goes on to note that Schiff had advance knowledge of the whistleblower’s complaint, but “clearly” lied about it, and cites Schiff’s “parody” of Trump’s phone call with Ukraine as “perhaps the best evidence that there was no wrongdoing on the call.”
The letter, which was addressed to Pelosi, Schiff, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot L. Engel (D-NY), and House Committee on Oversight and Reform Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-MD), came the same day that President Trump ordered his ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, not to testify before House Democrats. Sondland is one of several State Department officials who have been deposed by Democrats to testify about Trump’s request to have Ukraine investigate Joe Biden.
Schiff rebuked Trump’s decision — as well as the State Department’s choice to withhold relevant texts from Sondland — in a statement to reporters Tuesday as further evidence of “obstruction,” the New York Post reports. Responding to the White House’s letter Tuesday, Pelosi similarly warned that “continued efforts to hide the truth of the President’s abuse of power from the American people will be regarded as further evidence of obstruction,” before adding: “Mr. President, you are not above the law. You will be held accountable.”
But Republicans have blasted the Ukraine controversy as a mere partisan sequel to the Russian drama that preceded it — and it does indeed seem to be following similar tracks. Once again, Democrats are accusing the president of treason, denying basic rights like the presumption of innocence, and then — when the president or his officials refuse to play along by these slanted rules — threatening “obstruction” charges for interfering with the Democrats’ sacred, “constitutional” process.
It’s a classic example of a political show trial, and the signs of partisan motive are everywhere. In addition to Schiff’s early knowledge of the whistleblower complaint, reports have surfaced that Democrats plan to interview the whistleblower in secret, at an unknown remote location; that the whistleblower has a past “professional relationship” with a Democrat currently running for president; and that the whistleblower’s lawyers, who have numerous Democrat connections, formed an organization to solicit damaging leaks from inside the Trump administration in 2017.
And this is only the beginning.