US President Donald Trump waves after disembarking Air Force One upon arriving at Andrews Joint Base in Maryland after his Thanksgiving vacation. Picture: Yuri Gripas/Reuters
US President Donald Trump waves after disembarking Air Force One upon arriving at Andrews Joint Base in Maryland after his Thanksgiving vacation. Picture: Yuri Gripas/Reuters

Trump refuses to take part in this week's impeachment hearing

By Sophie Wingate Time of article published Dec 2, 2019

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Washington - The White House informed House Democrats on Sunday

that US President Donald Trump would not participate in a Wednesday

hearing as part of the impeachment inquiry.

In a five-page letter to Democrat Jerry Nadler, chairman of the House

Judiciary Committee, which is holding the hearing, counsel to the

president Pat Cipollone called the probe "baseless" and "highly

partisan."

Cipollone wrote that Trump's lawyers "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."

The counsel also said Trump would be in London for the NATO leaders

meeting on Wednesday.

The hearing is the Judiciary Committee's first. It is due to look at

the legal basis for the investigation of the president and will

feature legal scholars.

"An invitation to an academic discussion with law professors does not

begin to provide the president with any semblance of a fair process,"

Cipollone said in the letter.

The letter was in response to a request by Nadler for Trump to

indicate by Sunday whether the president himself or his attorneys

would attend Wednesday's hearing.

Cipollone wrote that the White House would respond separately

regarding participation in future hearings by Friday, a further

deadline set by Nadler.

The inquiry enters a crucial week as the House Intelligence Committee

plans to vote on a report making the case for Trump's removal from

office on Tuesday. Their findings would go to the Judiciary Committee

to consider actual charges.

The impeachment inquiry began in September, as Democrats alleged the

Republican president abused the power of his office by pushing

Ukraine to investigate his rival, Joe Biden.

The saga also hinges on whether Trump withheld military aid to

Ukraine as part of the pressure campaign.

Public hearings began in November.

The Trump administration has been stonewalling the impeachment

inquiry as much as possible. The president maintains he has done

nothing wrong.

dpa

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