clearn.png
Friday October 18th, 2019 4:48AM

White House spurns House impeachment probe as illegitimate

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House declared it will halt any and all cooperation with what it termed the "illegitimate" impeachment probe by House Democrats, sharpening the constitutional clash between President Donald Trump and Congress.

Trump attorneys on Tuesday sent a lengthy letter to House leaders bluntly stating White House refusal to participate in the inquiry that was given a boost by last week's release of a whistleblower's complaint that the president sought political favors from Ukraine.

"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," White House counsel Pat Cipollone wrote.

That means no additional witnesses under administration purview will be permitted to appear in front of Congress or comply with document requests, a senior official said.

The White House is objecting that the House has not voted to begin an impeachment investigation into Trump. It also claims that Trump's due process rights are being violated.

House intelligence committee Chairman Adam Schiff tweeted in response that Trump's refusal to cooperate with the inquiry signals an attitude that "the president is above the law."

"The Constitution says otherwise," he asserted.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has insisted the House is well within its rules to conduct oversight of the executive branch under the Constitution regardless of a formal impeachment inquiry vote.

"Mr. President, you are not above the law," Pelosi said in a statement Tuesday night. "You will be held accountable."

The Constitution states the House has the sole power of impeachment, and that the Senate has the sole power to conduct impeachment trials. It specifies that a president can be removed from office for "treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors," if supported by a two-thirds Senate vote. But it offers little guidance beyond that on proceedings.

The White House letter marks the beginning of a new all-out strategy to counter the impeachment threat to Trump. Aides have been honing their approach after two weeks of what allies have described as a listless and unfocused response to the probe.

The president himself is sticking with the same Trump-as-victim rhetoric he has used for more than a year.

"People understand that it's a fraud. It's a scam. It's a witch hunt," he said on Monday. "I think it makes it harder to do my job. But I do my job, and I do it better than anybody has done it for the first two and half years."

Early Tuesday, Trump escalated his fight with Congress by blocking Gordon Sondland, the U.S. European Union ambassador, from testifying behind closed doors about the president's dealings with Ukraine.

Sondland's attorney, Robert Luskin, said his client was "profoundly disappointed" that he wouldn't be able to testify. And Schiff said Sondland's no-show was "yet additional strong evidence" of obstruction of Congress by Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that will only strengthen a possible impeachment case.

The House followed up Tuesday afternoon with subpoenas for Sondland's testimony and records.

Trump is also bulking up his legal team.

Former Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy is being brought on as outside counsel, according to an administration official. Gowdy, who did not seek reelection last year, led a congressional investigation of former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and the terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya.

The whistleblower's complaint and text messages released by another envoy portray U.S. Ambassador Sondland as a potentially important witness in allegations that the Republican president sought to dig up dirt on Democratic rival Joe Biden in Ukraine and other countries in the name of foreign policy.

Pelosi said thwarting the witness testimony on Tuesday was an "abuse of power" in itself by the president.

The White House letter to Pelosi, Schiff and other House committee chairmen, though asserting a legal argument that Trump and other officials cannot cooperate, would not be likely to win respect in court, said Stephen Vladeck, a law professor at the University of Texas.

"This letter reads to me much more like a press release prepared by the press secretary than an analysis by the White House counsel," he said.

The White House is claiming that Trump's constitutional rights to cross-examine witnesses and review all evidence in impeachment proceedings extend even to House investigations, not just a potential Senate trial. It also is calling on Democrats to grant Republicans in the House subpoena power to seek evidence in the president's defense.

Elsewhere in Washington, a federal judge heard arguments Tuesday in a separate case on whether the House has actually undertaken a formal impeachment inquiry despite not having taken a vote and whether the inquiry can be characterized, under the law, as a "judicial proceeding."

That distinction matters because while grand jury testimony is ordinarily secret, one exception authorizes a judge to disclose it in connection with a judicial proceeding. House Democrats are seeking grand jury testimony from special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation as they conduct their impeachment inquiry.

"The House under the Constitution sets its own rules, and the House has sole power over impeachment," Douglas Letter, a lawyer for the House Judiciary Committee, told the court.

___

Associated Press writers Eric Tucker and Michael Balsamo contributed to this report.

___

Follow Miller on Twitter at https://twitter.com/zekejmiller and Colvin at https://twitter.com/colvinj

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online President, White House, advisers News, AP Online Congress News
© Copyright 2019 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
White House spurns House impeachment probe as illegitimate
Constitutional clash: White House declares it will halt any and all cooperation with what it considers an illegitimate impeachment probe by House Democrats
12:33AM ( 5 minutes ago )
White House, Democrats spar over rules for impeachment
Constitution gives the House "the sole power of impeachment," leaving Democrats and White House to fight over what that means
12:32AM ( 5 minutes ago )
The Latest: Classified briefing on Syria set for Hill staff
The Trump administration will hold a classified briefing on Syria for House and Senate staff Tuesday afternoon, according to congressional aide familiar with the meeting
12:29AM ( 9 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Rays chase Verlander early, beat Astros 4-1 to even ALDS
Willy Adames homered and made a sensational relay throw from shortstop, Tommy Pham also went deep and the Tampa Bay Rays chased Justin Verlander early in beating the Houston Astros 4-1 to even their AL Division Series at two games apiece
11:57PM ( 40 minutes ago )
2 suspects in custody, 1 sought in cop trial witness slaying
Three Louisiana men are suspected in the killing of a witness who testified at the murder trial of a former Dallas police officer, and authorities say the killing had nothing to do with that case
11:56PM ( 42 minutes ago )
Recuperating Sanders says he may slow down campaigning pace
Bernie Sanders began reintroducing himself to the 2020 campaign on Tuesday, venturing outside his Vermont home to say that he doesn't plan on leaving the race following his heart attack last week
11:31PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
Killer's lifetime of evil backed up by a prodigious memory
Serial killer Samuel Little's depravity is matched only by his prodigious memory
9:01PM ( 3 hours ago )
Johnson & Johnson, Risperdal maker hit with $8B verdict
A Philadelphia jury has decided that Johnson & Johnson and Janssen Pharmaceuticals should pay $8 billion over an antipsychotic drug that the plaintiff's attorneys say is linked to the growth of female breast tissue in boys
8:27PM ( 4 hours ago )
Trump shifts tone on Turkey in effort to halt Syria invasion
President Donald Trump has moved from threatening to obliterate Turkey's economy if it invades Syria to inviting its president to visit the White House
7:06PM ( 5 hours ago )
Top General short headlines
House pushes for release of Mueller grand jury testimony
Lawyers for House Democrats are urging a judge to release secret grand jury testimony to them as Congress begins an impeachment inquiry
10:12PM ( 2 hours ago )
California governor signs law capping rent increases
California is now the second state in the country to cap rent increases
7:56PM ( 4 hours ago )
The Latest: Former SC Rep. Trey Gowdy joins Trump legal team
Former Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy has been tapped to serve as outside counsel to President Donald Trump as the House impeachment inquiry expands
6:57PM ( 5 hours ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
Trump seethes over impeachment inquiry and slams critics
President Donald Trump is seething over an impeachment inquiry into his conduct after Democrats subpoenaed the White House about contacts with Ukraine and he signaled his administration would not cooperate
4:31PM ( 3 days ago )
Impeachment probe reaches into White House with new subpoena
Democrats subpoena White House for documents; Trump officials call it a waste of time
12:37AM ( 4 days ago )
Democrats subpoena White House in impeachment inquiry
The White House is preparing to formally object to Democrats' impeachment inquiry as soon as Friday
6:42PM ( 4 days ago )
AP Online President, White House, advisers News
APNewsBreak: Wisconsin GOP to let disabled lawmaker call in
Republicans who control the Wisconsin Assembly intend to change their rules to allow a paralyzed Democratic lawmaker to phone into committee meetings he can't attend in person
2:18PM ( 10 hours ago )
Italian lawmakers back overhaul to reduce their seats
Italy's parliament approved on Tuesday to slash the number of lawmakers, a constitutional overhaul that has been strongly advocated by the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement
2:09PM ( 10 hours ago )
Supreme Court weighs LGBT people's rights
A seemingly divided Supreme Court struggled Tuesday over whether a landmark civil rights laws protects LGBT people from discrimination in employment
1:37PM ( 11 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
White House, Democrats spar over rules for impeachment
Constitution gives the House "the sole power of impeachment," leaving Democrats and White House to fight over what that means
12:32AM ( 6 minutes ago )
The Latest: Classified briefing on Syria set for Hill staff
The Trump administration will hold a classified briefing on Syria for House and Senate staff Tuesday afternoon, according to congressional aide familiar with the meeting
12:29AM ( 9 minutes ago )
Better polling means sharper scrutiny. Is Warren ready?
Elizabeth Warren is finding that her rapid ascent is accompanied by heightened scrutiny and criticism, from both President Donald Trump and her Democratic opponents
12:24AM ( 14 minutes ago )
NBA slate has some old, something new _ a Simmons 3-pointer
Ben Simmons made his first 3-pointer as a pro, and Chris Paul returned to Oklahoma City, this time with the Thunder and not the Hornets
12:22AM ( 16 minutes ago )
Trump's plan for Syria withdrawal weakens GOP unity
After years of limiting public fights with President Donald Trump, congressional Republicans broke ranks over the president's plans to withdraw U.S. forces from northern Syria
12:20AM ( 18 minutes ago )