White House Says It Won’t Cooperate With Impeachment Inquiry Citing ‘Lasting Institutional Harm’

Mairead McArdle

The White House on Tuesday wrote a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the chairmen of three Democratic committees informing House Democrats that the Trump administration does not intend to cooperate with the “unconstitutional” impeachment inquiry against President Trump.

“You have designed and implemented your inquiry in a manner that violates fundamental fairness and constitutionally mandated due process,” White House counsel Pat Cipollone wrote in the eight-page letter.

The White House lawyer launched a slew of accusations at Democrats, saying they have violated due process by denying Trump access to witnesses for cross-examining and the right to have counsel present and have withheld evidence and transcripts of testimony from the executive branch.

“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,” Cipollone wrote. “Because participating in this inquiry under the current unconstitutional posture would inflict lasting institutional harm on the Executive Branch and lasting damage to the separation of powers, you have left the President no choice.”

The president also “cannot permit” the rest of his administration to participate in such a “partisan inquiry,” Cipollone said.

Democrats have also violated the separation of powers and led the country in an “unprecedented” and “dangerous” direction, Cipollone charged, by attempting to use impeachment to overturn the results of the 2016 election.

The letter comes the same day Trump blocked Gordon Sondland, the U.S. European Union ambassador and a key witness in the impeachment probe, from testifying behind closed doors to the House Intelligence Committee, riling Democratic lawmakers.

Trump has been criticized by both sides of the aisle over his July phone call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, during which Trump asked Zelensky to help his administration investigate allegations that the former vice president used his position to help a Ukrainian natural-gas company avoid a corruption probe soon after his son was appointed to its board of directors.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi last month announced the opening of a formal impeachment inquiry into allegations that President Trump withheld Ukrainian military aid unless Ukraine investigated Biden.

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