The White House will not cooperate with the remaining House impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump.
“As you know, your impeachment inquiry is completely baseless and has violated basic principles of due process and fundamental fairness,” reads a letter from Pat Cipollone, counsel to the president, to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler.
The response was issued less than an hour before a Friday afternoon deadline for lawyers of the president to state whether they would represent him in the next round of the committee’s impeachment proceedings.
“You should end this inquiry now and not waste even more time with additional hearings,” Cipollone said in the letter.
The counsel reiterates the president’s tweeted words that “if you are going to impeach me, do it now, fast, so that we can have a fair trial in the Senate and so that our Country can get back to business.”
Later Friday, Nadler expressed disappointment Trump has decided not to participate.
“We gave President Trump a fair opportunity to question witnesses and present his own to address the overwhelming evidence before us. After listening to him complain about the impeachment process, we had hoped that he might accept our invitation,” the committee chairman said in a statement. “If the President has no good response to the allegations, then he would not want to appear before the Committee. Having declined this opportunity, he cannot claim that the process is unfair.”
This comes a day after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi directed leaders of relevant committees to start drafting articles of impeachment against the president, declaring that Trump has “abused the power of his office.”
Democrats contend the Republican president has defied the norms of conduct for the office and violating his sworn obligation to uphold the U.S. Constitution by asking Ukraine to launch an investigation of Joe Biden, the former vice president running for the Democratic Party nomination to challenge Trump next year.
While Pelosi has mentioned no timetable, the Democratic-controlled House could vote to impeach the president before the Christmas holiday recess at the end of the month. That would set the stage for a January trial in the Republican-majority Senate.
Trump contends his phone conversations with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy have been perfect and he did nothing wrong.
Republicans have defended the president, saying Trump was right to press Ukraine to scrutinize the work that Biden’s son did for a Ukrainian natural gas company.
Republicans are also pushing a debunked theory that Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election that Trump won.
The U.S. intelligence community concluded it was Ukraine’s giant neighbor, Russia, that was doing the meddling.
Trump’s request to Kyiv came at a time his administration was temporarily withholding $391 million in military assistance approved for Ukraine to fight pro-Russian separatists in the eastern part of the country.
The aid was released in September without Ukraine opening investigations of the Bidens.
The request for such an investigation in exchange for military assistance is expected to be among the articles of impeachment against Trump.
This is only the fourth time in U.S. history that an American leader is facing formal impeachment proceedings.
Articles of impeachment will first be considered by the 41-member House Judiciary panel, where Democrats hold a 24-17 majority.
Two former U.S. presidents — Andrew Johnson in the mid-19th century and Bill Clinton two decades ago — were impeached but not convicted or removed from office by the Senate, while a third, Richard Nixon, resigned in 1974 in the face of certain impeachment.
Congressional correspondent Katherine Gypson contributed to this report.