The White House is setting up constitutional clash over the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry.
The White House signaled Tuesday that it will block any cooperation with the House’s impeachment inquiry, calling Democrats’ effort “illegitimate” and “dangerous,” setting up a constitutional clash with Congress.
In a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the three committee chairs leading the impeachment probe, White House Counsel Pat Cipollone all but declared that the Trump administration will refuse to engage with a process it considers to be constitutionally invalid.
“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,” Cipollone wrote.
The eight-page letter reads more like a political document than a legal one, echoing many of President Donald Trump’s claims about the House Democrats who are investigating him. It also calls on Democrats to dismantle the process they set up to impeach Trump over allegations that he abused his power by pressuring Ukrainian leaders to help discredit his political rivals.
“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,” Cipollone added.
In particular, Cipollone took issue with the fact that the House has not formally voted to authorize the establishment of an impeachment inquiry, calling it a violation of due process.
“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,” he wrote.
Cipollone also echoed Republicans’ criticisms of House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), whose staff had previous contact with the whistleblower who first sounded the alarm about Trump’s July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, during which Trump pressured Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden.
“Anyone who was involved in the preparation or submission of the whistleblower’s complaint cannot possibly act as a fair and impartial judge in the same matter – particularly after misleading the American people about his involvement,” Cipollone wrote.
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