The nuclear level 8-page letter sent to House Democrats by President Donald Trump’s counsel on Tuesday has put House Democrats on notice. The White House has opened an aggressive, new front in its war against a Congress that does not wish to abide by any traditional rules and procedures. It just enforces them for the president.
The House of Representatives and the White House are on the cusp of a legal battle that will test the limits of the Constitution. The letter torched the legally dubious impeachment inquiry as “baseless, unconstitutional efforts to overturn the democratic process.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) tweeted Tuesday, “So far, the House has fallen far short by failing to follow the same basic procedures that it has followed for every other President in our history.”
Democrats are pushing into uncharted legal territory as they slash and burn legal precedents, congressional norms and the president’s due-process rights to hold what amounts to a secret inquest using debunked charges from an anonymous so-called whistleblower. He has been accused of having partisan motives after a report claiming he worked closely with a Democratic candidate running for president.
The White House made it clear it will not comply with demands for documents and testimony in an inquiry approved only by Democrats without a full House vote.
The letter objected to the “numerous, legally unsupported demands made as part of what you have labeled — contrary to the Constitution of the United States and all past bipartisan precedent — as an “impeachment inquiry.” As you know, you have designed and implemented your inquiry in a manner that violates fundamental fairness and constitutionally mandated due process.”
Historically impeachment proceedings have been conducted publicly by the House Judiciary Committee, but the House Intelligence Committee, chaired by Adam Schiff (D-CA) has been taking charge and holding closed-door hearings.
White House counsel raised numerous objections to the conduct of House Democrats: “you have denied the President the right to cross-examine witnesses, to call witnesses, to receive transcripts of testimony, to have access to evidence, to have counsel present, and many other basic rights guaranteed to all Americans. You have conducted your proceedings in secret. You have violated civil liberties and the separation of powers by threatening Executive Branch officials, claiming that you will seek to punish those who exercise fundamental constitutional rights and prerogatives,” wrote Pat A. Cipollone, counsel to the president.
“All of this violates the Constitution, the rule of law, and every past precedent. Never before in our history has the House of Representatives — under the control of either political party — taken the American people down the dangerous path you seem determined to pursue,” the letter noted.
America must shun impeachment without a crime. Unless acts of treason, bribery, crimes and misdemeanors have been uncovered, Democrats have no grounds on which to bring impeachment proceedings against the president. The Constitution could not be more clear and unambiguous:
“The President, Vice President and all Civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”
— U.S. Constitution, Article II, section 4
Trump’s crime is that he is empowered to investigate political players that thought they were swimming joyfully in an airtight Washington fishbowl that no lowly outsider could penetrate.
They could cut surreptitious deals at home and abroad without any accountability. They snuggled cozily with the intelligence agencies and leading investigative officials in the country, shielding them from scrutiny.
Newly elected Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) issued a warning to Trump in 2017, that intelligence officials ‘have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you.’ It still echoes through the halls of Washington.
The president’s personal attorney, Rudy Guiliani, appeared on Fox News’ The Ingraham Angle on Tuesday, pointing fingers at former president Barack Obama.
“For years Obama had a pay-for-play operation in his administration and it’s disgusting and one of the reasons they’re fighting so hard – If Biden comes out, so does Clinton come out and about three others. This goes right to the top of the Obama administration and the administration that says, ‘I didn’t have scandals’ will be the most scandal ridden administration in our history. Obama didn’t care about ethics. He didn’t care otherwise it wouldn’t happen,” he said.
Trump has the rats in Washington running scared. The ones squealing the loudest probably have unclean hands. The “let’s-get-him-before-he-gets-us” strategy has failed, leaving them grasping onto a whistleblower’s unsubstantiated conspiracy theories. The showdown in court will be glorious.