House impeachment report coming ahead of landmark hearing

WASHINGTON (AP) – The House impeachment report on United States (US) President Donald Trump was unveiled yesterday behind closed doors for key lawmakers as Democrats push ahead with the inquiry despite the White House’s declaration it will not participate in the first Judiciary Committee hearing.

The Democratic majority on the House Intelligence Committee said the report, compiled after weeks of testimony, will speak for itself in laying out what Chairman Adam Schiff, D-California, called the evidence of “wrongdoing and misconduct” by the Republican president over his actions towards Ukraine. It was made available for committee members to review ahead of a vote today to send it to the Judiciary Committee for tomorrow’s landmark hearing.

Late last Sunday, White House counsel Pat Cipollone denounced the “baseless and highly partisan inquiry.” In a letter to Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-New York, he also declined the invitation for the president’s counsel to appear before his panel tomorrow.

Cipollone, in continuing the West Wing’s attack on the House process, said the proceeding “violates all past historical precedent, basic due process rights, and fundamental fairness.”

Trump himself was scheduled to attend a summit with NATO allies outside London tomorrow.

US President Donald Trump speaks during a ceremony at the Pentagon. PHOTO: AP

As the impeachment inquiry intensified, tomorrow’s hearing will be a milestone. It is expected to convene legal experts whose testimony, alongside the report from the Intelligence Committee, could lay the groundwork for possible articles of impeachment, which the panel is expected to soon draw up.

Democrats are focussed on whether Trump abused his office by withholding military aid approved by Congress and a White House meeting as he pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to launch investigations into Trump’s political rivals.

The report also is expected to include evidence of possible obstruction of Congress by Trump’s instructions that officials in his administration defy subpoenas for documents or testimony.

Trump maintains he did nothing wrong, and as the House presses forward on an ambitious schedule towards an impeachment vote, the President and his Republican allies are aligned against the process.

Cipollone’s letter applied only to tomorrow’s hearing, and he demanded more information from Democrats on how they intended to conduct further hearings before Trump would decide whether to participate in them.