White House to stop all cooperation in Trump impeachment probe
In a move that is set to roughen the constitutional clash between US President Donald Trump and Congress, the White House has announced that it will halt any and all cooperation with what it called the “illegitimate” impeachment probe by House Democrats. Trump attorneys sent a lengthy letter to House leaders openly stating the White House’s refusal to participate in the inquiry that was given a boost by last week’s release of a whistleblower’s complaint that the president sought political favors from Ukraine.
White House Counsel Pat Cipollone said, “Given that your inquiry lacks any legitimate constitutional foundation, any pretense of fairness, or even the most elementary due process protections, the Executive Branch cannot be expected to participate in it.” The move means no additional witnesses under administration purview will be permitted to appear in front of Congress or comply with document requests.
The letter objects that the House has not voted to begin an impeachment investigation into Trump and also claims that the President’s due process rights are being violated. House intelligence committee Chairman Adam Schiff tweeted in response that Trump’s refusal to cooperate with the inquiry signals an attitude that “the president is above the law.” He asserted, “The Constitution says otherwise.”
Meanwhile House Speaker Nancy Pelosi insists the House is well within its rules to conduct oversight of the executive branch under the Constitution regardless of a formal impeachment inquiry vote. In a statement, she said, “Mr President, you are not above the law. You will be held accountable.”
The letter kickstarts a whole new strategy to counter the impeachment threat to Trump. The leader’s own rhetoric is the usual ‘Trump is victim’ which he has used for over a year. He said on Monday, “People understand that it’s a fraud. It’s a scam. It’s a witch hunt. I think it makes it harder to do my job. But I do my job, and I do it better than anybody has done it for the first two and half years.”
Just yesterday, Trump escalated his fight with Congress by blocking the US European Union ambassador Gordon Sondland, from testifying behind closed doors about the president’s dealings with Ukraine. Sondland’s attorney stated his client was “profoundly disappointed” that he wouldn’t be able to testify. Meanwhile Trump is moving to buff up his legal team.