The White House on Tuesday said it would not cooperate with House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry, escalating the clash between Congress and President Donald Trump’s administration.
In a letter that echoed Trump’s recent messaging — accusing Democrats of violating the Constitution and civil liberties and attempting to overturn the results of the 2016 election — the White House called the impeachment inquiry invalid.
In response, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi warned that Trump was not above the law and that continued efforts to hide Trump’s abuse of power would be “regarded as further evidence of obstruction.”
The White House argued that in order for the Democrats to make their inquiry valid the House would have to take a number of steps, including holding a full vote to beginning impeachment proceedings, allowing Republicans to issue subpoenas and granting the White House the ability to cross-examine witnesses and have access to evidence.
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But even if the House took those actions, it is unclear whether the White House would then cooperate, said a senior administration official.
“We are avoiding saying there is no way we would ever cooperate,” the official said. “What we have done is explain the flaws under the current circumstances, and how changes could address those flaws and what that might hold for the future, I don’t want to predict now.”
There is little in the Constitution outlining how impeachment should be carried out. The document merely states broadly that the House “shall have the sole Power of Impeachment” and that “the Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments.”
In making a case for why the executive branch should be able to dictate what actions the legislative branch must take, the White House cited how past impeachments were handled and the basic due process defendants are allowed in the judicial process.