They argue the White House counsel was a routine presence in many of the episodes of the pressure campaign.
President Donald Trump’s lead impeachment lawyer, White House counsel Pat Cipollone, was a central witness to many of the facts of the case against Trump, House Democrats argued Tuesday, demanding that the Cipollone disclose any firsthand knowledge and warning that his role “threatens to undermine the integrity of the pending trial.”
“You may be a material witness to the charges against President Trump, even though you are also his advocate,” the House’s seven impeachment managers wrote in a letter to Cipollone.
The Democrats say Cipollone was a routine presence in many of the episodes at the heart of allegations that Trump pressured Ukraine to investigate his Democratic rivals. For example, they say, Cipollone supervises John Eisenberg, the lead White House national security lawyer who was identified by several witnesses in the Ukraine episode as someone with knowledge of the case.
“Mr. Eisenberg appears to have informed you of at least some, if not all, of these incidents,” Democrats say.
It’s the House’s first volley in what could become a brutal fight over the mechanics of the Trump impeachment trial, whose rules are expected to be finalized Tuesday evening.
The impeachment managers, led by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), say Cipollone’s office also refused to cooperate with a Government Accountability Office review of Trump’s decision to withhold military aid from Ukraine, a decision that the House accused Trump of making to drive up pressure on Ukraine’s new president to launch the politically motivated probes. The GAO last week concluded that the White House budget office violated the law when it froze the aid.
They say he also was involved in the administration’s decision to withhold from Congress a whistleblower’s complaint about the Ukraine matter, despite an internal watchdog’s review deeming it “urgent” and credible.
“[A]t a minimum, you must disclose all facts and information as to which you have first-hand knowledge that will be at issue in connection with the evidence you present or arguments you make in your role as the President’s legal advocate so that the Senate and Chief Justice can be apprised of any potential ethical issues, conflicts, or biases,” they write.
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