| December 02, 2019 03:39 PM
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler criticized President Trump’s decision not to testify in Wednesday’s public impeachment hearing, saying his participation “has been a priority for the House from the outset.”
The committee will hold a hearing featuring four constitutional scholars who will provide their viewpoints on impeaching Trump for abuse of power, obstruction of Congress, and other offenses related to his effort to get Ukraine government officials to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden.
The hearing provides Trump or White House counsel the first chance to participate and defend the president against allegations that Democrats have been investigating for weeks.
Trump’s lawyers declined the invitation on Sunday in a letter that described the hearing and investigatory process as unfair.
Nadler has yet to announce the four constitutional experts Democrats plan to call as witnesses, White House Counsel Pat Cipollone wrote in his response to Nadler on Sunday.
Trump’s legal team and GOP lawmakers want to be able to call their own witnesses and allow Trump’s legal team to cross-examine witnesses.
An Oct. 31 House resolution that provides rules for the impeachment process allows one narrow window for the president to participate when the judiciary committee holds a hearing this week.
Trump and his legal team have not been invited to partake in earlier hearings or depositions that began in late September.
“An invitation to an academic discussion with law professors does not begin to provide the president with any semblance of a fair process,” Cipollone wrote. “Accordingly, under the current circumstances, we do not intend to participate in your Wednesday hearing.”
Nadler, in his Monday rebuttal to Cipollone, said Trump should turn over documents subpoenaed by the House and stop blocking key administration witnesses from testifying, including acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and former National Security Adviser John Bolton.
“Late last night, the President and his counsel turned down our invitation to participate in Wednesday’s hearing,” Nadler said Monday in a statement. “His response is unfortunate because allowing the President to participate has been a priority for the House from the outset. That is why the House included the opportunity to participate in H. Res 660.”