Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, has fired back at President Donald Trump after the White House stated that the administration would totally refuse to participate in her impeachment inquiry.
“Mr. President, you are not above the law. You will be held accountable,” Pelosi said in a statement on Tuesday night. She was responding to a heated letter from White House Counsel Pat Cipollone.
The letter declared that the “illegitimate” impeachment probe amounted to an illegal attempt to overturn the 2016 election, and announced that the White House would not respond to Congressional subpoenas in the matter.
“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,” Pelosi stated in her response.
“Despite the White House’s stonewalling, we see a growing body of evidence that shows that President Trump abused his office and violated his oath to ‘protect, preserve and defend the Constitution’,” she continued.
“The President’s actions threaten our national security, violate our Constitution and undermine the integrity of our elections. 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.
Cipollone’s intense, eight-page letter, was basically a declaration of political war.
“Put simply, you seek to overturn the results of the 2016 election and deprive the American people of the President they have freely chosen,” White House Counsel Pat Cipollone wrote to the speaker and House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings and Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engle, who are overseeing the inquiry.
Cipollone argued in the letter that the president and his administration “reject your baseless, unconstitutional efforts to overturn the democratic process” and would not cooperate with subpoena requests.
“Your unprecedented actions have left the President with no choice,” he wrote. “In order to fulfill his duties to the American people, the Constitution, the Executive Branch, and all future occupants of the Office of the Presidency, President Trump and his Administration cannot participate in your partisan and unconstitutional inquiry under these circumstances.”
Cipollone did not directly focus on the issue of a full House vote on an impeachment inquiry, because the GOP would most likely lose in the Democratic-controlled chamber and some Republican lawmakers would be uneasy about being put in the spot of having to go on the record.
He also hinted the administration would become more cooperative if Democrats dropped the formal impeachment inquiry and returned to “regular order.”
“If the Committees wish to return to the regular order of oversight requests, we stand ready to engage in that process as we have in the past, in a manner consistent with well-established bipartisan constitutional protections and a respect for the separation of powers enshrined in our Constitution,” he wrote.
Pelosi outlined in a letter to fellow Democrats, before she received the White House letter, making it clear the impeachment inquiry will go forward.
She also charged the president with obstruction of justice – a charge Democrats see as an impeachable offense – and said the Constitution gives the lawmakers the authority to continue their investigation.
“As President Trump is obstructing justice, abusing power and diminishing the office of the presidency, we have a responsibility to strengthen the institution in which we serve. This is essential if we are to honor the separation of powers which is the genius of the Constitution,” the speaker wrote earlier Tuesday afternoon.
The White House disagreed with the Democrats’ obstruction argument.
“That’s a political argument, not a legal argument,” a senior administration official said.
Cipollone details a series of demands from the White House, including presenting evidence, calling witnesses, having White House counsel at all hearings, and letting them cross-examine the witnesses.
He also requests, on behalf of Republican lawmakers, the power to subpoena witnesses.
Cipollone does not have much of a legal leg to stand on in his requests. Article I in the Constitution gives the House of Representatives “the sole Power of Impeachment.”
“The effort to impeach President Trump — without regard to any evidence of his actions in office — is a naked political strategy that began the day he was inaugurated, and perhaps even before,” Cipollone wrote.
Credit: Daily Mail