Donald Trump is facing an impeachment probe over a phone call to Ukraine (Photo Credit: PTI File)
The White House has refused any cooperation by President Donald Trump in the Democrats' impeachment investigation, saying the efforts being made by the opposition is unconstitutional and an attempt to overturn the democratic process. The White House sent a letter to the Democratic leaders in the House of Representatives informing them of the decision of the Trump Administration.
Democrats in the US House of Representatives are examining whether there are grounds to impeach Trump, a Republican, based on a whistleblower's account that said he asked Ukrainian President Zelenskiy in a July 25 phone call to help investigate Democratic political rival Joe Biden.
It seems like the letter is also part of a new strategy to counter the impeachment threat with stalling and counter-attacking. The eight-page letter came after the Trump administration abruptly blocked a key witness in the Ukraine scandal from appearing before the congressional impeachment inquiry.
It sets up a clash between the White House and Congress – the executive and legislative branches.
Soon after the letter was sent, White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham told reporters that the impeachment probe against President Trump is purely political.
"The President has done nothing wrong and the Democrats know it. For purely political reasons, the Democrats have decided their desire to overturn the outcome of the 2016 election allows them to conduct a so-called impeachment inquiry that ignores the fundamental rights guaranteed to every American," she said.
"These partisan proceedings are an affront to the Constitution-as they are being held behind closed doors and deny the President the right to call witnesses, to cross-examine witnesses, to have access to evidence, and many other basic rights," she said.
In the letter, White House counsel Pat Cipollone rejected the allegations against President Trump terming it baseless and unconstitutional.
"President Trump and his Administration reject your baseless, unconstitutional efforts to overturn the democratic process," he said in his letter dated October 8, a copy of which was released to the press.
"Your unprecedented actions have left the President with no choice. 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," he said.
Cipollone said Trump is focused on fulfilling his promises to the American people.
"He (Trump) has important work that he must continue on their behalf, both at home and around the world, including continuing strong economic growth, extending historically low levels of unemployment, negotiating trade deals, fixing our broken immigration system, lowering prescription drug prices, and addressing mass shooting violence," he said.
"We hope that, in light of the many deficiencies we have identified in your proceedings, you will abandon the current invalid efforts to pursue an impeachment inquiry and join the President in focusing on the many important goals that matter to the American people," Cipollene said.
A senior administration official told reporters that for the first time in America's history, the House of Representatives is now purporting to proceed on an impeachment inquiry against the President without conducting a vote on the House floor.
"This has never happened in the history of the country. There's always been, in every prior inquiry into a presidential impeachment, a vote on the House floor," the official asserted.
The House is purporting to proceed simply on the basis of a news conference that the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, had, the official said.
Pelosi has insisted the House is well within its rules to conduct oversight of the executive branch under the constitution regardless of a vote.