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The impeachment process is continuing to speed right along, but the White House is continuing to refuse to be a part of it, still insisting that it's a sham. Yet, while they refuse to play a part, the House Judiciary Committee could be voting on articles of impeachment as early as this week.
White House Counsel Pat Cipollone sent a response to House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler (D-NY) on Friday, noting that Donald Trump would not send attorneys to the House Judiciary hearing on Monday. House Intelligence Committee attorneys will present evidence on their investigation into the president's phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, asking him to conduct investigations into his political opponents in exchange for a White House visit and military aid for his country.
The letter rehashed the White House's stance that the impeachment inquiry violated Trump's due-process rights. While he did not say the White House wouldn't participate later in the process, he didn't indicate they would be either.
"House Democrats have wasted enough of America's time with this charade. You should end this inquiry now and not waste even more time with additional hearings," Cipollone wrote. "Adopting articles of impeachment would be a reckless abuse of power by House Democrats and would constitute the most unjust, highly partisan, and unconstitutional attempt at impeachment in our nation's history."
A senior administration official speaking on condition of anonymity said the White House doesn't see a reason to participate because they view the process as "unfair." House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) "has already announced the predetermined result," added the official. "They will not give us the ability to call any witnesses."
Unsurprisingly, Nadler spoke against Cipollone's response to him. "We gave President Trump a fair opportunity to question witnesses and present his own to address the overwhelming evidence before us," he said in a statement. "After listening to him complain about the impeachment process, we had hoped that he might accept our invitation."
"If it goes there, he wants a trial," assured deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley on Fox News. "If they're going to do this, if the Democrats want this fight, it's something the president is willing to have."
"The White House said they wanted open hearings, not closed, and they didn't want those either," complained House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff (D-CA). "Then they said they wanted to participate in the proceedings, and now they say they don't. All they really want is to hide the president's serious misconduct."
Two days later Nadler made the rounds to the Sunday morning news shows and said his panel would not be deciding on specific impeachment articles until after Monday's hearing but that the vote could come as early as this week.
"There are possible drafts that various people are writing," he said on CNN's "State of the Union." "But the fact is we're not going to make any decision as to how broad the articles should be — as to what they contain, what the wording is — until after the hearing tomorrow."
In an appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press," Nadler said the articles would be brought to his panel later in the week. Asked whether lawmakers would vote on the articles this week, he replied, "It's possible," adding, "I think the case we have, if presented to a jury, would be a guilty verdict in about three minutes flat."
However, he and others played down the suggestion that one of the articles could be based on former special counsel Robert Mueller's report on the Russia investigation. While he did not draw conclusions of whether Trump's 2016 campaign cooperated with Russia, he cited 10 incidents of possible obstruction of justice by the president.
Schiff told CBS' "Face the Nation" that the best strategy is to include charges supported by "the strongest and most overwhelming evidence and not try to charge everything, even if you could charge other things."
"Nobody wants to put the kitchen sink into these articles," emphasized Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), who sits on the House Judiciary panel, in an interview with Reuters. "We need to be focused; we need to be clear. We need to present the best possible case."
Judiciary Committee Democrats have said instead of using Mueller's report as an article of impeachment, they can instead use it to show a repeated pattern of misconduct on Trump's part to support charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
"It's part of a pattern" that shows a threat to the integrity of the 2020 election," Nadler pointed out.
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