Donald Trump spent his Wednesday morning rage-tweeting about House Democrats’ impeachment investigation.
His public schedule otherwise empty, the president appeared to be reviewing and responding to coverage of his White House’s announcement it would not be complying with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s impeachment inquiry.
Trump attacked the anonymous whistle-blower who brought conduct Democrats say could be criminal to light. In defiance of federal laws intended to protect such a person’s identity, he claimed that ‘he or she should be exposed and questioned properly’ in one of his first tweets of the day.
‘The so-called Whistleblower, before knowing I was going to release the exact Transcript, stated that my call with the Ukrainian President was “crazy, frightening, and completely lacking in substance related to national security.” This is a very big Lie. Read the Transcript! he said in his latest attempt to undermine the impeachment probe’s star witness.
Trump claimed that Pelosi and her caucus are ‘Con Artists, only looking to hurt the Republican Party and President’ before demanding that she apologize and ‘stop this ridiculous impeachment!’
‘Their total focus is 2020, nothing more, and nothing less,’ he charged. ‘The good news is that WE WILL WIN!!!!
The White House told Speaker Nancy Pelosi that Donald Trump and his staff would not be participating in her impeachment inquiry
Trump paired up with his son, Don Jr., to attack his congressional critics.
The younger Donald Trump remained in New York to help run his father’s business. Even before impeachment inquiry launched, though, he had been devoting his Twitter feed to defending his president father.
After the whistle-blower was revealed to have had ‘some type of professional relationship with one of the Democratic candidates,’ the president’s son erupted.
‘It’s good that this partisan hit job is coming to light but based on the bulls*** of the last 3 years did anyone really not see this coming from moment one???’ he said in a tweet the president, who’s begun publicly cursing at his accusers, shared with his following.
The president went on to assault the House Intelligence Committee chairman, over an admission that his committee was contacted by the whistle-blower before the unidentified intelligence operative lodged a formal complaint.
‘Adam Schiff is a disgrace to our Country!’ he said of the California Democrat he believes is lying to further the investigation.
The White House told Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday that Donald Trump and his staff would not be participating in her ‘illegitimate’ impeachment inquiry because it amounted to an illegal attempt to overturn the 2016 election.
‘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.
The scathing, eight-page missive, was tantamount to a declaration of political war.
In the letter, Cipollone argued 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 danced around the issue of a full House vote on an impeachment inquiry, stopping short of directly calling for one, because the GOP would likely lose in the Democratic-controlled chamber and some Republican lawmakers would be uneasy about being put in the politically tough spot of having to go on the record.
The White House counsel argued the impeachment inquiry was an illegal attempt to overthrow President Trump’s 2016 election
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.
But Pelosi outlined her stance in a letter to fellow Democrats before she received the White House missive, 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 pushed back on the Democrats’ obstruction argument.
‘That’s a political argument, not a legal argument,’ a senior administration official said on a call with reporters.
The White House letter reads more like a political argument than a legal one. It’s filled with provocative, fiery language, and hurls insults at some of the key Democratic players in the impeachment process.
Cipollone outlines 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.
That power belongs to the majority party in Congress. Democrats, for example, could not use it when Republicans controlled the chamber.
Cipollone also argues ‘your inquiry is constitutionally invalid and a violation of due process’ because the full House did not vote on proceeding with an impeachment inquiry.
However, he stops short of blatantly calling for such a vote.
But senior administration officials did not tell reporters which or all of their demands would need to be met to ensure the president’s and his staff’s cooperation with Democrats.
Cipollone does not have much of a legal leg to stand on in his requests. Article I on the Constitution gives the House of Representatives ‘the sole Power of Impeachment.’
His letter also echoes some of the political attacks President Trump has made in his own defense, particularly in its attacks on Schiff.
Cipollone attacked Schiff for his opening statement at a hearing last month that mocked the president’s phone conversation with the president of the Ukraine, a move Trump has railed against and argued Schiff should be arrested for treason for doing.
He also cited a report that the whistle-blower who first drew attention to the contents of the president’s call reached out to staff on the Intelligence committee on how to proceed.
And he threw out some political red meat in his chewing out of the Democrats.
‘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.
The letter from the White House counsel echoed President Trump’s political attacks on Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff
White House counsel Pat Cipollone included political red meat in his scathing letter to Democrats on impeachment
The administration vowed last week to send Pelosi a letter arguing the president can ignore Democrats’ demands for witnesses and documentation in their impeachment inquiry.
Pelosi argues the blessing of the full House isn’t necessary for Democrats to proceed in their inquiry.
There ‘is no requirement under the Constitution, under House Rules, or House precedent that the whole House vote before proceeding with an impeachment inquiry,’ she told House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy in a letter last week after he urged her to hold a vote in the full House.
Given that Pelosi’s party holds the majority in the chamber, such a measure would be expected to pass.
But Republicans could be concerned about support slipping among their own lawmakers.
Pelosi has made such an argument.
‘There’s some Republicans that are very nervous about our bringing that vote to the floor,’ she said a press conference on Capitol Hill last week.
Polls indicate support among Americans – and slowly among Republicans – is building for the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry.
And some GOP lawmakers, like Representative Mark Amodei of Nevada, have indicated an openness to the inquiry, saying Congress should follow the facts in the case. Congressman Fred Upton of Michigan said there are ‘legitimate questions’ about Trump’s request of the Ukrainian president in their July 25 phone call.
A vote now on an impeachment inquiry could lock in GOP lawmakers to the president’s side before further cracks in support show up.
And it would force them on the record at a time many of them have remained silent about the president’s predicament.
There is talk that, privately, not all Republicans are on the president’s side.
Former Arizona Senator Jeff Flake claimed ‘at least 35’ Republican senators would vote to impeach Trump – if they could do it on a secret ballot.
‘I heard someone say if there were a private vote there would be 30 Republican votes,’ he told the Texas Tribune Festival last month. ‘That’s not true. There would be at least 35.’
The president does have his public supporters though. McCarthy and Republican lawmaker Jim Jordan have been vocal and public in their backing the president.
‘You have a speaker of the House that said we need to strike while the iron is hot and the chairman of the committee who is so bias against this president,’ Jordan complained on Tuesday in the Capitol of Pelosi and Schiff.
The resistance movement by the Trump administration has already started when the president directed Gordon Sondland, his ambassador to the European Union, not to testify before lawmakers on Tuesday.
A series of text messages released by the House Intelligence Committee last week place Sondland at the center of talks involving the Ukrainians, U.S. diplomats, and Trump personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.
The White House has played hardball with Democrats, forbidding EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland from testifying before lawmakers
Lawmakers wanted to speak to him about the texts and about additional texts and emails they claim are in his possession.
House Democrats, in response, vowed to subpoena Sondland.
If the Trump administration directs him to ignore the subpoena, the matter is likely to end up in the courts.