White House won't participate in first impeachment hearing

White House Counsel says Democrats' impeachment process is a “baseless” and “partisan” exercise.

Ben Ariel ,

Donald Trump
Donald Trump

The White House informed House Democrats on Sunday that it will not participate in the Judiciary Committee’s first impeachment hearing against President Donald Trump, Politico reports.

In a letter to Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), White House Counsel Pat Cipollone said the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry is a “baseless” and “partisan” exercise.

The decision indicates that President Donald Trump has listened to his allies and some congressional Republicans who argued that a White House presence at the hearing would validate a process they have harangued as illegitimate and partisan.

“Under the current circumstances, we do not intend to participate in your Wednesday hearing,” wrote Cipollone, 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. Notably, Cipollone left open the possibility that the White House would participate in future hearings.

The impeachment proceedings against Trump were launched by the Democrats in the wake of the President’s controversial conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in which he allegedly threatened to withhold aid to Ukraine unless its government investigated actions by former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.

However, even if the impeachment is approved by the House of Representatives, it is unlikely to pass the Republican-controlled Senate. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) recently said that he cannot envision any scenario in which the Senate would vote to remove Trump from office.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said recently that Trump is welcome to testify before the Intelligence Committee that is leading the impeachment inquiry against him.

The White House, which has criticized the House of Representative's impeachment inquiry, has made clear that Trump “wants to have a trial in the Senate because it’s clearly the only chamber where he can expect fairness and receive due process under the Constitution.”