As lawmakers return from their Thanksgiving recess this week, the House is slated to move into the next phase of its impeachment inquiry into President Trump’s dealings with Ukraine: The House Judiciary Committee — the panel that holds jurisdiction over drafting any article or articles of impeachment. But the White House announced it wouldn’t take part in Wednesday’s hearings, claiming it’s “unfair to invite the president to an academic discussion with law professors.”
Up until now, the impeachment inquiry has been piloted by the Intelligence Committee, which held two weeks of public hearings with current and former administration with knowledge of Trump’s handling of foreign policy in Kyiv.
Those opening rounds featured a dry, just-the-facts approach designed to glean the details surrounding any efforts by Trump and his allies to pressure foreign leaders to find dirt on the president’s domestic political opponents.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) informed members of the Democratic caucus last week that the panels overseeing the impeachment inquiry were working on preparing a report on their findings to send to the Judiciary Committee.
Schiff has also not ruled out the possibility of additional hearings or depositions.
The Judiciary panel’s first hearing on the matter, scheduled for Wednesday morning, will feature legal experts providing their own assessments of Trump’s actions, as they relate to the constitutional grounds for impeaching a president.
But the White House sent a letter on Sunday night announcing it wouldn’t take part in Wednesday’s hearings.
“An invitation to an academic discussion with law professors does not begin to provide the president with any semblance of a fair process. Accordingly, under the current circumstances, we do not intend to participate in your Wednesday hearing,” the White House added.
Nadler also wrote to Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) on Friday asking if he would like to issue any subpoenas or interrogatories relating to the inquiry. He also gave the ranking member until Dec. 6 to notify him.
“I am prepared to schedule a meeting of the Committee on Monday, December 9, 2019 to consider any such referrals,” Nadler wrote to Collins.