As the next phase of the impeachment inquiry into United States President Donald Trump gets underway this week, the White House says it won’t participate despite an invitation to do so.
On Wednesday, hearings will shift to the House Judiciary Committee after the House Intelligence Committee votes likely on Tuesday night to approve its report on President Trump’s potentially impeachable abuses of power in relation to his dealings with the President of Ukraine.
The Judiciary Committee is responsible for drawing up any articles of impeachment that could be voted on by the full House before Christmas.
After weeks of testimony before the Intel committee where witness testimony included accusations that the President used the power of his office to withhold congressionally-approved military aid and a White House meeting from Ukraine and its President unless they publicly moved forward with an investigation against a political opponent of the President.
While the Judiciary Committee offered President Trump and his attorneys an opportunity to participate this week, a five-page letter from White House Counsel to the Committee declined that invitation, arguing the hearings did not offer the president any semblance of a fair process – as expressed by Trump at a political rally in Florida last week.
“The radical left Democrats are trying to rip our nation apart. First it was the Russia hoax. It was a failed overthrow attempt and the biggest fraud in the history of our country. And then you look – the Mueller deal. You remember that mess? They had nothing. Two years, they spent 45 million dollars, and the real cost is many times that number. And now the same maniacs are pushing the deranged – think of this – impeachment, impeachment. A witch-hunt – the same as before. And they’re pushing the impeachment witch-hunt, and a lot of bad things are happening to them. Because you see what’s happening in the polls? Everybody said, ‘That’s really bullshit!”
The White House decision comes as the Judiciary Committee shifts the focus of the impeachment inquiry from fact-finding to the consideration of possible charges against the President.
“The White House is advancing a new and dangerous theory – crony privilege. It makes absolute immunity look good by comparison. Where are the limits? This is a cover up plain and simple. If it were to prevail, especially while the Judiciary Committee is considering whether to recommend articles of impeachment, it would upend the separation of powers as envisioned by our founders,” says Chairman of the Committee, Jerrold Nadler.
Currently national polling averages reveal support for impeachment at around 49% with those against impeachment at 43% – a divide on display in a congressional town hall in Staten Island New York where a Trump supporter had was escorted out after yelling “stop the coup”.
“It is clear as day that this country is divided. I spend every day that I am not in Washington, D.C., speaking to you all, and believe me, I’m well aware that as a consequence of what is happening, half of this community hates what’s going on, half of this community loves what’s going on. And we’re constantly at each other’s throats,” says Max Rose a Democratic Congressman for the District.
As partisan politics continues to be a driving force on the unfolding impeachment process as expressed by these voters with opposing views: “Bringing it into the public, with all the witnesses who testified, I think brings a lot of valid evidence in. And now I want to see what everybody in the House [of Representatives], I want to see what they stand, I want to see where my congressman stands, based off the evidence that we have heard from people who have testified,” says a voter.
“They have not come up with a thing. There’s no evidence of any wrongdoing, no quid pro quo. I don’t know what they’re looking for. They’ll never find it,” adds another voter.
So two major things to look out for this week- first the House Intelligence Committee’s report summarizing their investigation and secondly, the start of the Judiciary Committee process that will consider whether that report amounts to malfeasance in the actions of the President and whether he should be impeached or not. A decision that could come as early as the next two weeks with a full house vote likely before December 25th.