[Marxism] White House Declares War on Impeachment Inquiry, Alleging Effort to Undo Trump’s Election

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Oct 8 16:43:21 MDT 2019

(A Constitutional crisis is inevitable.)

NY Times, Oct. 8, 2019
White House Declares War on Impeachment Inquiry, Alleging Effort to Undo 
Trump’s Election
By Nicholas Fandos, Peter Baker, Michael S. Schmidt and Maggie Haberman

WASHINGTON — The White House declared war on the House impeachment 
inquiry on Tuesday, announcing that it would not cooperate with what it 
called an illegitimate and partisan effort “to overturn the results of 
the 2016 election” of Donald J. Trump.

In a letter to House Democratic leaders, the White House said the 
inquiry violated precedent and President Trump’s due process rights in 
such an egregious way that neither he nor the executive branch would 
willingly provide testimony or documents, a daring move that sets the 
stage for a constitutional clash.

“Your unprecedented actions have left the president with no choice,” 
said the eight-page letter signed by Pat A. Cipollone, the White House 
counsel. “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 

The letter came hours after the White House blocked the interview of a 
key witness, Gordon D. Sondland, the United States ambassador to the 
European Union, just hours before he was to appear on Capitol Hill.

Read the White House Letter in Response to the Impeachment Inquiry
In a letter to House Democratic leaders, the White House counsel called 
the House’s impeachment inquiry illegitimate.

Mr. Trump, defiant as investigators dig further into his efforts to 
pressure Ukraine to find dirt on his political rivals, ridiculed the 
inquiry as spurious, signaling even before the release of the top White 
House lawyer’s letter that he planned to stonewall Congress, an act that 
could itself build the case for charging him in an impeachment 
proceeding with obstruction.

“I would love to send Ambassador Sondland, a really good man and great 
American, to testify,” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter Tuesday morning around 
the time Mr. Sondland was to appear, “but unfortunately he would be 
testifying before a totally compromised kangaroo court, where 
Republican’s rights have been taken away.”

Earlier on Tuesday, House Democrats said they would regard the 
president’s stance as obstruction. Representative Adam B. Schiff, 
Democrat of California and chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, 
said the administration’s refusal to allow Mr. Sondland to appear was 
“strong evidence” of “obstruction of the constitutional functions of 
Congress, a coequal branch of government.”

Mr. Schiff told reporters that the State Department was also withholding 
text messages Mr. Sondland had sent on a private device that were 
“deeply relevant” to the inquiry. He later indicated the House would 
issue a subpoena for his testimony and the messages.

“The American people have the right to know if the president is acting 
in their interests, in the nation’s interests with an eye toward our 
national security, and not in his narrow personal, political interests,” 
Mr. Schiff told reporters. “By preventing us from hearing from this 
witness and obtaining these documents, the president and secretary of 
state are taking actions that prevent us from getting the facts needed 
to protect the nation’s security.”

The decision to block Mr. Sondland from being interviewed was delivered 
at the last minute, after the ambassador had already flown to Washington 
from Europe, and lawmakers had returned from a two-week recess to 
observe the questioning.

Trump administration lawyers and aides have spent days puzzling over how 
to respond to the impeachment inquiry, and the abrupt move suggested 
that the president’s team has calculated that he is better off risking 
the House’s ire — and even an impeachment article focused on the 
obstruction — than setting a precedent for cooperation with an 
investigation they have strenuously argued is illegitimate.

The strategy, if it holds, carries substantial risk to the White House. 
Privately, some Republicans had urged the White House to allow witnesses 
like Mr. Sondland to appear, in order to deflate Democratic accusations 
of a cover-up and offer a public rationale for the president’s actions 
toward Ukraine. Now, some Republicans worry, Democrats have more fodder 
to argue publicly that Mr. Trump has something to hide.

Mr. Schiff said the Intelligence Committee, working with both the 
Foreign Affairs and the Oversight and Reform panels, would continue its 
work regardless. But beyond issuing a subpoena for Mr. Sondland, the 
chairman did not detail how he might seek to crank up pressure on the 
White House to comply, and the standoff may create a quandary for 
Democrats who had hoped to move quickly in extracting crucial evidence 
and decide in short order whether to push forward on impeaching Mr. Trump.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi said it was too early to know whether Democrats 
might draft an article of impeachment based on the obstruction issue, 
akin to one adopted by the House Judiciary Committee in the 1970s 
impeachment proceedings against Richard M. Nixon.

“The president is obstructing Congress from getting the facts that we 
need,” Ms. Pelosi told reporters in Seattle, where she was holding an 
unrelated event. “It is an abuse of power for him to act in this way.”

The Evidence Collected So Far in the Trump Impeachment Inquiry
The status of the documents and witness testimony being collected by 
congressional investigators.

Mr. Sondland has become enmeshed in the burgeoning saga of how the 
president sought to push the Ukrainians to investigate former Vice 
President Joseph R. Biden Jr., his son and Democrats. Although Ukraine 
is not in the European Union, Mr. Trump instructed Mr. Sondland — a 
wealthy hotelier and contributor to his campaign — to take a lead in his 
administration’s dealings with the country.

Democrats consider him a key witness to what transpired, including 
whether the president sought to use a $391 million package of security 
assistance and the promise of a White House meeting as bargaining chips 
to essentially bully President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine into 
digging up dirt on the Bidens and other Democrats.

Mr. Trump’s allies on Capitol Hill rushed to his defense on Tuesday and 
condemned Mr. Schiff and the Democrats for running what they described 
as an unfair process, though they made clear they thought Mr. Sondland 
would have been a helpful witness for the president’s case.

“We were looking forward to hearing from Ambassador Sondland,” said 
Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, the top Republican on the Oversight 
and Reform Committee, adding that Republicans believed Mr. Sondland 
would “reinforce exactly” what lawmakers and aides heard least week from 
Kurt D. Volker, the former American special envoy to Ukraine. Mr. Volker 
told investigators he knew of nothing improper between the two 
countries, although he turned over a trove of documents that raised 
further questions.

“But we understand exactly why the administration, exactly why the State 
Department has chosen to say, ‘Look if it’s going to be this kind of 
process …,’ ” Mr. Jordan added.

And in the Senate, Mr. Trump’s allies shifted into high gear to 
orchestrate a counteroffensive on his behalf. Senator Lindsey Graham, 
Republican of South Carolina and the chairman of the Senate Judiciary 
Committee, said he would invite Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s 
personal lawyer who was deeply involved in the pressure campaign on 
Ukraine, to testify before his panel. Mr. Giuliani led the push to 
enlist the Ukrainians to help investigate the business dealings of the 
Bidens and a conspiracy theory that Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election.

“Given the House of Representatives’ behavior, it is time for the Senate 
to inquire about corruption and other improprieties involving Ukraine,” 
Mr. Graham said.

Democrats did not flinch at the suggestion, and Senator Dianne Feinstein 
of California, Mr. Graham’s Democratic counterpart on the committee, 
said she looked forward to questioning “Rudy Giuliani under oath about 
his role in seeking the Ukrainian government’s assistance to investigate 
one of the president’s political rivals.”

It was unclear what the Trump administration’s position would mean for 
other witnesses expected to testify in the House investigation. Marie L. 
Yovanovitch, the former ambassador to Ukraine, is currently scheduled to 
appear on Friday. The State Department has also missed a subpoena 
deadline to hand over documents the House has demanded related to Ukraine.

Mr. Sondland interacted directly with Mr. Trump, speaking with the 
president several times around key moments that House Democrats are now 
investigating, including before and after Mr. Trump’s July call with Mr. 
Zelensky. The president asked Mr. Zelensky in that conversation to do 
him “a favor” and investigate the Bidens and matters related to 2016.

Text messages provided to Congress last week showed that Mr. Sondland 
and another senior diplomat had worked on language for a statement they 
wanted the Ukrainian president to put out in August that would have 
committed him to the investigations sought by Mr. Trump. The diplomats 
consulted with Mr. Giuliani about the statement, believing they needed 
to pacify him in order to allow the United States to normalize relations 
with the Ukrainians.

Mr. Sondland was also involved in a back-and-forth with top American 
diplomats to Ukraine over text last month that suggests some senior 
State Department officials believed that Mr. Trump may have been holding 
up the security aid as leverage for getting its leaders to conduct the 
investigations Mr. Trump wanted.

“As I said on the phone, I think it’s crazy to withhold security 
assistance for help with a political campaign,” William B. Taylor Jr., a 
top American official in Ukraine, wrote in one exchange in early September.

After receiving the text, Mr. Sondland called Mr. Trump, who asserted it 
was false.

“Bill, I believe you are incorrect about President Trump’s intentions,” 
Mr. Sondland wrote in the messages. “The President has been crystal 
clear no quid pro quo’s of any kind.”

Mr. Sondland added: “I suggest we stop the back and forth by text.”

There have been conflicting accounts of Mr. Sondland’s views, however. 
Senator Ron Johnson, Republican of Wisconsin, told The Wall Street 
Journal last week that Mr. Sondland had told him in August that the 
release of the aid was contingent upon Ukraine opening the 
investigations. Mr. Johnson said he was alarmed and asked Mr. Trump if 
there was a quid pro quo involved. The president adamantly denied it, he 

Robert D. Luskin, Mr. Sondland’s lawyer, said in a statement that as a 
State Department employee, his client had no choice but to comply with 
the administration’s direction. He said Mr. Sondland was “profoundly 
disappointed” he was not able to testify, and would do so in the future 
if allowed.

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