Nadler Reacts to White House’s Refusal to Participate in Impeachment Hearings

December 2, 2019 Updated: December 2, 2019

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) said Monday that the White House’s announcement about not participating in Wednesday’s impeachment hearing is a telltale sign.

“The American people deserve transparency,” Nadler said in a statement to media outlets.

“If the President thinks the call was ‘perfect’ and there is nothing to hide then he would turn over the thousands of pages of documents requested by Congress, allow witnesses to testify instead of blocking testimony with baseless privilege claims, and provide any exculpatory information that refutes the overwhelming evidence,” Nadler added.

He was referring to a July 25 phone call between President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky where Trump asked his counterpart to “look into” former Vice President Joe Biden and son Hunter Biden’s dealings in the country. Trump released a transcript of the call after the inquiry was announced and has said it was “a perfect call.” Zelensky also told reporters in late September that they “had [a] good phone call,” and “it was normal.”

White House counsel Pat Cipollone sent a letter to the longtime Democratic congressman on Sunday informing him that the White House won’t partake in the hearing.

Nadler scheduled the hearing for Wednesday, Dec. 4, which will feature Constitutional law scholars.

But Cipollone said the inquiry is “baseless,” “highly partisan,” and “violates all past historical precedent” as well as due process rights enshrined in the Constitution.

“As for the hearing scheduled for Dec. 4, 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,” Cipollone told the committee. “More importantly, an invitation to an academic discussion with law professors does not begin to provide the president with any semblance of a fair process. Accordingly, under the current circumstances, we do not intend to participate in your Wednesday hearing.”

The new set of hearings in the Judiciary Committee follows weeks of House Intelligence Committee hearings led by its chairman, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), that ended before the Thanksgiving recess period. Several current and former administration officials testified in public and closed-door settings about whether Trump allegedly solicited Ukraine’s interference in the 2020 election, which Trump and Ukrainian officials have denied.

Over the weekend, Zelensky told Time magazine that he again disputes the assertion there was quid pro quo involved.

“Look, I never talked to the president from the position of a quid pro quo. That’s not my thing,” Zelensky said. He said he doesn’t “understand at all” the allegations made against Trump during the House Intelligence Committee’s hearings.

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