The White House told Democratic lawmakers on Sunday that U.S. President Donald Trump and his lawyers would not participate in a congressional impeachment hearing this week, citing a lack of “fundamental fairness.”
White House counsel Pat Cipollone wrote to Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, according to a copy of a letter.
Trump’s aides responded defiantly to the first of two crucial deadlines he faces in Congress this week as Democrats prepare to shift the focus of their impeachment inquiry from fact-finding to the consideration of possible charges of misconduct over his dealings with Ukraine.
The Democratic-led House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, tasked with considering charges known as articles of impeachment, had given Trump until 6 p.m. (2300 GMT) on Sunday to say whether he would dispatch a lawyer to take part in the judiciary panel’s proceedings on Wednesday.
“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 said.
Cipollone – while citing a “complete lack of due process and fundamental fairness afforded the president” in the impeachment process – did not rule out participation in further proceedings.
But he signaled that Democrats would first have to make major procedural concessions.
Nadler has given the White House a Friday deadline to say whether Trump will mount a defense in broader impeachment proceedings.
The Judiciary Committee’s Democratic staff did not immediately reply to a request for comment on the White House’s refusal to participate in the hearing, which would have been the first direct involvement by the Trump camp in a process he has condemned as a partisan “witch hunt.”
Democratic U.S. Representative Don Beyer said on Twitter in response to the White House letter: “Not one process complaint made by the President and his Republican allies in Congress so far has turned out to be genuine.”
Congressional investigators have been looking into whether Trump abused his power by pressuring Ukraine to launch investigations of former Democratic Vice President Joe Biden.
Biden is running to unseat him in the 2020 presidential election, and a discredited conspiracy theory that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
The first in a series of expected Judiciary proceedings will hear testimony on the impeachment process established under the U.S. Constitution from a panel of legal experts that has yet to be named.
Hearings before the committee, which has responsibility for crafting any formal charges against Trump, are a major step toward possible charges.
Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who will make the final decision, has not yet said whether the Republican president should be impeached.
But in a letter to supporters last week, she called for him to be held accountable for his actions.
Trump has denied any wrongdoing, calling the impeachment inquiry a sham.
Finally Pentagon Admits 11 US Soldiers Were Hurt In Iran Missile Strike
Days after President Donald Trump and the US military denied claims of casualties after an Iranian missile attack on Iraqi air base on January 8 in retaliation over the killing of the commander of its Revolutionary Guard Qasem Soleimani, the US Central Command has admitted that it treated 11 of its troops for symptoms of concussion.
It was reported that over 1,500 US soldiers at the base were tucked away in bunkers, after advance warning from superiors before the attack.
In his speech on 8 January responding to the strike, Trump said:
“The American people should be extremely grateful and happy no Americans were harmed in last night’s attack by the Iranian regime. We suffered no casualties, all of our soldiers are safe, and only minimal damage was sustained at our military bases.”
However on Thursday January 16, US Central Command spokesman Captain Bill Urban disclosed that some American soldiers have been treated for concussion symptoms from the blast and are still being assessed.
He said: “While no US service members were killed in the Jan 8 Iranian attack on Al Asad air base, several were treated for concussion symptoms from the blast and are still being assessed.”
The statement further revealed that some service members were taken to US facilities in Germany or Kuwait for “follow-on screening”. It added;
“Out of an abundance of caution, service members were transported from Al Asad Air Base, Iraq to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany for follow-on screening. When deemed fit for duty, the service members are expected to return to Iraq following screening.”
Capt. Bill Urban said eight soldiers were transported to Germany and three were sent to Camp Arifjan in Kuwait.
Urban said: “As a standard procedure, all personnel in the vicinity of a blast are screened for traumatic brain injury, and if deemed appropriate are transported to a higher level of care.”
US Senate Prepares For Donald Trump Impeachment Trial
About 100 lawmakers of the U.S. Senate were sworn in on Thursday as jurors for the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.
BBC reports that Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, John Roberts administered the oath to the senators.
Justice Roberts asked the senators, “Do you solemnly swear that in all things appertaining to the trial of the impeachment of Donald John Trump, President of the United States, now pending, you will do impartial justice according to the Constitution and the laws, so help you God?”
The lawmakers responded with “I do” before each signing in a book that they took the oath.
The senators, will from Jan. 21, begin deliberation on whether Trump should be removed from office over charges brought by the House of Representatives.
Trump was on Dec. 18, 2019, impeached by the House of Representatives, for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress related to his dealings with Ukraine.
But the Republican party has control of the upper chamber and are likely to acquit him.
If this happens, Trump will be joining two former American presidents — Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton — who were impeached but saved by the Senate.
US Senate Formally Accepts Trump’s Impeachment Articles
The two articles of impeachment against Donald Trump were read out Thursday on the US Senate floor ahead of the start of the historic trial against the US president.
“In his conduct, and in violation of his constitutional oath… Donald J. Trump has abused the powers of the presidency,” Representative Adam Schiff, one of the House managers who will lead the prosecution of the president, said as he began reading from the first article of impeachment.