White House Refuses to Participate in Impeachment Hearing

President Donald Trump gestures after speaking at a campaign rally Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2019, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

(CN) – President Trump’s lawyers announced Sunday that they would not participate in the House Judiciary Committee’s first public impeachment hearing on Wednesday, claiming that the probe is “baseless and highly partisan.”

Democrats had extended an offer to the president and his lawyers to participate in the hearing, an offer that was rebuked in a letter published Sunday evening.

“This baseless and highly partisan inquiry violates all past historical precedent, basic due process rights, and fundamental fairness,” wrote White House counsel Pat Cipollone.

The president and Republicans have attacked the impeachment process, claiming that the proceedings are being driven by politics rather than evidence.

“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 wrote.

The president has refused to cooperate in the investigation and instead blocked witnesses from testifying and refused to hand over documents to House investigators. Democrats are expected to approve their impeachment report on Tuesday, making the case that President Trump committed “high crimes and misdemeanors” when he asked political favors of the Ukrainian president in a July 25 phone call.

Wednesday’s hearing is expected to have four legal experts to determine the constitutional grounds of possible article of impeachment against the president.

Cipollone did not discount participating in future hearings, but he derided the Democrats on the timing of their offer.

“You have given no information regarding your plans, set arbitrary deadlines, and then demanded a response, all to create the false appearance of providing the President some rudimentary process,” he wrote.

Following a two month investigation, which included significant public testimony from former U.S. ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland and other officials, Democrats are expecting to have a final House vote before Christmas.

“I do believe that all evidence certainly will be included in that report so the Judiciary Committee can make the necessary decisions that they need to,” said Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., a member of both the Intelligence and Judiciary committees, on ABC’s “This Week.”

“If he has not done anything wrong, we’re certainly anxious to hear his explanation of that,” she added.

For his part, the president continued to attack the impeachment probe via Twitter.

“The Democrats are holding the most ridiculous Impeachment hearings in history. Read the Transcripts, NOTHING was done or said wrong!” Trump tweeted on Saturday.

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