White House Vows It ‘Will Not Cooperate’ With Impeachment Document Requests From House
In a strongly-worded letter to House Democratic leaders, the Trump administration announced on Tuesday it would not cooperate with any document requests to further the impeachment inquiry President Donald Trump now faces.
The letter from Trump’s White House counsel Pat Cipollone called requests for documents from Democrats “baseless” and “constitutionally invalid.” It also accused Democrats of trying to change the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.
“In order to fulfill his duties to the American people…President Trump and his Administration cannot participate in your partisan and unconstitutional inquiry under these circumstances,” the letter read in part.
The letter also challenged the legitimacy of the inquiry altogether.
“Given that your inquiry lacks any legitimate constitutional foundation, any pretense of fairness, or even the most elementary due process protections, the Executive Branch carmot be expected to participate in it.”
In refusing to acquiesce to House Democrats’ demands, the letter implied that Trump had more important work to do. “The President has a country to lead. The American people elected him to do this job, and he remains focused on fulfilling his promises to the American people,” the letter added.
The letter could perhaps backfire on the Trump administration. The refusal to cooperate with Democrats may, in fact, provide more fodder for their impeachment inquiry, as it could be interpreted as a purposeful obstruction of a co-equal branch of government’s attempts to investigate the alleged wrongdoings of another.
Congress is a co-equal branch https://t.co/DsbJg9fIUY
— chris zappone (@chrizap) October 8, 2019
According to a whistleblower complaint, made public last month, Trump allegedly pressured a foreign power, by withholding military aid to them, to investigate a political opponent, Democratic candidate for president Joe Biden. In announcing the impeachment inquiry late last month, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said the president had abused his powers in making those demands.
“The actions of the Trump presidency revealed the dishonorable fact of the president’s betrayal of his oath of office, betrayal of our national security, and betrayal of the integrity of our elections,” Pelosi said, per prior reporting from HillReporter.com.
Some commentators have already made comparisons of Trump’s refusal to cooperate to former President Richard Nixon’s stonewalling of Congress’ investigations during Watergate.
“Nixon’s refusal to cooperate with congressional investigations was deemed an impeachable offense,” Mother Jones’ David Corn wrote in a column Tuesday. “Trump’s stonewalling can be regarded in the same manner. It violates the intent of the Constitution and prevents the House from fully examining and reviewing conduct that might be cause for impeachment.”
It’s unclear what action Democrats may take next — but there’s a high probability that the matter of impeachment, particularly the sharing of documents between the two branches, will head to the courts.