- "Under the current circumstances, we do not intend to participate in your Wednesday hearing," wrote White House lawyer Pat Cipollone.
- US President Donald Trump is faced with accusations of pressuring the Ukrainian government to investigate a political rival for his own political benefit.
- The House Judiciary Committee will consider at least four charges, or articles of impeachment, against President Trump.
US President Donald Trump and his lawyers will not attend the first public hearing on impeachment to which they have been invited by the House of Representatives, the White House confirmed on Sunday. After two months of investigations, the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee begins on Wednesday the legal debate to determine if the allegations against the president are serious enough to justify the opening of a political trial.
Trump was invited to attend in person, through his lawyers or by sending written questions to the witnesses. But the White House has since confirmed it’s rejection of the invitation. “We cannot fairly be expected to participate in a hearing while the witnesses are yet to be named and while it remains unclear whether the Judiciary Committee will afford the president a fair process through additional hearings,” wrote White House lawyer Pat Cipollone, in a letter to Committee Chairman, Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY). “Under the current circumstances, we do not intend to participate in your Wednesday hearing. But if they really decide to do a fair process in the future, we could consider participating,” Cipollone added.
Trump is in the midst of a political storm because he allegedly asked Ukraine to investigate the Bidens, with former Vice President Joe Biden being one of his top potential opponents in the 2020 US presidential election. His son, Hunter Biden, was a board member of a large Ukrainian gas company. President Trump is accused of breaking the law by pressuring the president of Ukraine to investigate the Bidens, but Trump denies the allegations and claims that he did not exert any pressure on Kiev.
The Democrats are, however, convinced that Trump abused his powers in a bid to favor his reelection campaigns, especially by blocking nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine, a country that is at war with Russia. For two months now, the House of Representatives has been going on with the investigation. In the new phase beginning Wednesday, the Judiciary Committee must consider at least four charges or articles of impeachment: abuse of power, corruption, contempt of Congress, and obstruction of justice. Once written, the accusation articles will be put to a vote in the House of Representatives, which can happen before Christmas.
Taking into account the Democratic majority in the House, Trump is likely to enter history books as the third president to be accused, after Andrew Johnson in 1868, and Bill Clinton in 1998, both later impeached. Richard Nixon resigned before the final stage of the process in 1974. The Senate would be responsible for judging the president next, with the need for a two-thirds majority for removal from office. This seems quite unlikely, owing to the fact that Republicans are the majority in the Senate, and currently, President Trump enjoys their full support.