Donald Trump pushed the United States towards a constitutional crisis Tuesday when his legal counsel said the White House will not cooperate with Congress’ impeachment inquiry.
“Your unprecedented actions have left the president with no choice, counsel Pat Cipollone said in a letter to Democratic leaders in the House of Representatives.
“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.”
The eight-page missive came after the Trump administration abruptly blocked a key witness in the Ukraine scandal from appearing before the congressional impeachment inquiry and sets the stage for a bitter partisan fight in the weeks ahead.
It sets up a clash between the White House and Congress – the executive and legislative branches.
The letter appeared to put the emphasis on a political rebuttal rather than coherent legal argument – perhaps marking a new strategy to counter the impeachment threat.
Trump’s aides have begun upped their game after two weeks of what some commentators have described as an unfocused response.
House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, launched the inquiry last month after it emerged that, in a July phone call, Trump had pressed the leader of Ukraine to investigate a political rival, Joe Biden.
Trump and his allies have questioned the inquiry’s legitimacy.
Pelosi has insisted, though, that the House is well within its rules to conduct oversight of the executive branch under the constitution regardless of a vote.
Cipollone’s letter threatens to end cooperation with Congress on important oversight matters, accusing members of formulating their investigation “in a manner that violates fundamental fairness and constitutionally mandated due process.”
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