U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi responded to the White House’s letter in defiance of House Democrats’ effort to impeach President Donald Trump, calling the letter “manifestly wrong” and “simply another unlawful attempt to hide the facts” of the administration’s wrongdoing.
The latest exchange of attacks marked yet another escalation of partisan fight over the ongoing impeachment inquiry against Trump led by House Democrats.
“The President’s actions threaten our national security, violate our Constitution and undermine the integrity of our elections,” Pelosi said in a statement, referring to Trump’s request made during a July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that the latter investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden.
The congresswoman’s statement came hours after the White House issued a letter notifying her and other House Democratic leaders that Trump and his administration won’t cooperate with the impeachment inquiry.
“The White House letter is only the latest attempt to cover up his betrayal of our democracy, and to insist that the President is above the law,” Pelosi said.
“This letter is manifestly wrong, and is simply another unlawful attempt to hide the facts of the Trump Administration’s brazen efforts to pressure foreign powers to intervene in the 2020 elections,” she added.
Controversies surrounding the Trump-Zelensky conversation – which also involved interactions between U.S. and Ukrainian officials before and after the call – were revealed by an anonymous whistleblower complaint filed in August, which triggered a formal impeachment inquiry against Trump announced by Pelosi on Sept. 24.
“You have designed and implemented your inquiry in a manner that violates fundamental fairness and constitutionally mandated due process,” White House Counsel Pat Cipollone told Pelosi in the letter.
The letter was also forwarded to House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings and Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel. The three panels have been leading – and speeding up – the impeachment proceedings.
Claiming that the impeachment investigation “violates the Constitution, the rule of law, and every past precedent,” Cipollone told the Democratic leaders: “Put simply, you seek to overturn the results of the 2016 election and deprive the American people of the President they have freely chosen.”
“President Trump and his Administration cannot participate in your partisan and unconstitutional inquiry under these circumstances,” the counsel said.
The White House released a rough transcript of the call on Sept. 25, a move claimed by Cipollone as Trump’s “unprecedented step of providing the public transparency,” adding that the record showed that the call was “completely appropriate and that there is no basis for your inquiry.”
Trump requested that Zelensky cooperate with his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and U.S. Attorney General William Barr to investigate the Bidens, and Zelensky pledged to Trump that his government would specifically look into Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian gas company for which Hunter Biden once worked and which had been accused of corruption, according to the transcript of the call.
The president also asked his counterpart to do the United States a “favor” by finding out “what happened with” the computer server used by the Democratic National Committee that investigators probing alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election believed was hacked by Russia. “The server, they say Ukraine has it,” Trump told Zelensky, the transcript showed.
“The American people have already heard the President’s own words – ‘do us a favor, though,’ Pelosi said in her statement.
The Oversight and Reform Committee, in consultation with the Intelligence and Foreign Affairs committees, issued a subpoena to the White House last Friday, requesting Ukraine-related documents due Oct. 18.
“Mr. President, you are not above the law. You will be held accountable,” Pelosi said in wrapping up her statement.
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