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White House tells Democrats it will not participate in Trump impeachment hearing

White House tells Democrats it will not participate in Trump impeachment hearing
FILE PHOTO: President Donald Trump listens while participating in a "roundtable on small business and red tape reduction accomplishments" in the Roosevelt Room at the White House in Washington, U.S. December 6, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque   -   Copyright  KEVIN LAMARQUE(Reuters)
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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The White House said on Friday it would refuse to take part in hearings in the U.S. House of Representatives set for next week that will consider what articles of impeachment to bring against President Donald Trump.

In a letter to Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, White House counsel Pat Cipollone called the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry “completely baseless” and said that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had ordered Democrats to proceed with articles of impeachment “before your committee has heard a single shred of evidence.”

“We don’t see any reason to participate because the process is unfair,” said a senior administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity. “We haven’t been given any fair opportunity to participate. The speaker has already announced the predetermined result and they will not give us the ability to call any witnesses.”

Pelosi on Thursday asked the Judiciary Committee to draw up articles of impeachment – formal charges – against the Republican president. The committee could draft and recommend the articles by next Thursday and the full Democratic-led House could vote on them by Christmas.

Pelosi in September launched the impeachment inquiry into Trump’s request that Ukraine investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, a leading contender for the Democratic nomination to face the president in the 2020 U.S. election.

“House Democrats have wasted enough of America’s time with this charade,” Cipollone’s letter said. “You should end this inquiry now and not waste even more time with additional hearings.”

He quoted Trump as saying “if you are going to impeach me, do it now, fast, so we can have a fair trial in the Senate, and so that our country can get back to business.”

(Reporting by Steve Holland, Susan Cornwell and David Morgan, Additional reporting by Doina Chicu and Patricia Zengerle; Writing by Will Dunham and Steve Holland; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Bill Berkrot)

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