House re­port com­ing ahead of land­mark hear­ing

The Saratogian (Saratoga, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - By Hope Yen, Lisa Mascaro and Mary Clare Jalonick

WASH­ING­TON >> The House im­peach­ment re­port on Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump will be un­veiled Mon­day be­hind closed doors for key law­mak­ers as Democrats push ahead with the in­quiry de­spite the White House’s dec­la­ra­tion it will not par­tic­i­pate in the first Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee hear­ing.

The Demo­cratic ma­jor­ity on the House In­tel­li­gence

Com­mit­tee says the re­port, com­piled af­ter weeks of tes­ti­mony, will speak for it­self in lay­ing out what Chair­man Adam Schiff, D-Calif., called the ev­i­dence of “wrong­do­ing and mis­con­duct” by the Repub­li­can pres­i­dent over his ac­tions to­ward Ukraine. It was be­ing made avail­able for com­mit­tee mem­bers to re­view ahead of a vote Tues­day to send it to the Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee for Wed­nes­day’s land­mark hear­ing.

Late Sun­day, White House coun­sel Pat Cipol­lone

de­nounced the “base­less and highly par­ti­san in­quiry.” In a let­ter to Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee Chair­man Jer­rold Nadler, DN.Y., he also de­clined the in­vi­ta­tion for the pres­i­dent’s coun­sel to ap­pear be­fore his panel Wed­nes­day.

Cipol­lone, in con­tin­u­ing the West Wing’s at­tack on the House process, said the pro­ceed­ing “vi­o­lates all past his­tor­i­cal prece­dent, ba­sic due process rights, and fun­da­men­tal fair­ness.” Trump him­self was

sched­uled to at­tend a sum­mit with NATO al­lies out­side Lon­don on Wed­nes­day.

Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo said Mon­day it’s “very un­for­tu­nate” the Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee is hold­ing its hear­ing at the same time that Trump is rep­re­sent­ing the U.S. at the NATO sum­mit.

“I re­gret that they’ve cho­sen to hold these hear­ings at the same time that the pres­i­dent and our en­tire na­tional se­cu­rity team will be trav­el­ing to Europe, to Lon­don, to work on these im­por­tant mat­ters,” Pom­peo said.

As the im­peach­ment in­quiry in­ten­si­fies, Wed­nes­day’s hear­ing will be a mile­stone. It is ex­pected to con­vene le­gal ex­perts whose tes­ti­mony, along­side the re­port from the In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee, could lay the ground­work for pos­si­ble ar­ti­cles of im­peach­ment, which the panel is ex­pected to soon draw up.

Democrats are fo­cused on whether Trump abused his of­fice by with­hold­ing mil­i­tary aid ap­proved by Congress and a White House meet­ing as he pressed Ukrainian Pres­i­dent Volodymyr Ze­len­skiy to launch in­ves­ti­ga­tions into Trump’s po­lit­i­cal ri­vals. The re­port also is ex­pected to in­clude ev­i­dence of pos­si­ble ob­struc­tion of Congress by Trump’s in­struc­tions that of­fi­cials in his ad­min­is­tra­tion defy sub­poe­nas for doc­u­ments or tes­ti­mony.

Trump main­tains he did noth­ing wrong, and as the House presses for­ward on an am­bi­tious sched­ule to­ward an im­peach­ment vote, the pres­i­dent and his Repub­li­can al­lies are aligned against the process.

Cipol­lone’s let­ter ap­plied only to the Wed­nes­day hear­ing, and he de­manded more in­for­ma­tion from Democrats on how they in­tended to con­duct fur­ther hear­ings be­fore Trump would de­cide whether to par­tic­i­pate in them. House rules pro­vide the pres­i­dent and his at­tor­neys the right to cross-ex­am­ine wit­nesses and re­view ev­i­dence be­fore the com­mit­tee, but little abil­ity to bring for­ward wit­nesses of their own.

Repub­li­cans, mean­while, wanted Schiff, the chair­man who led the in­quiry re­port, to tes­tify be­fore the Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee, though they have no power to com­pel him to do so, as they joined the White House ef­fort to try to cast the Demo­cratic-led in­quiry as skewed against the Repub­li­can pres­i­dent.

“It’s easy to hide be­hind a re­port,” said Rep. Doug Collins of Ge­or­gia, the top Repub­li­can on the Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee. “But it’s go­ing to be an­other thing to ac­tu­ally get up and have to an­swer ques­tions.”

Schiff has said “there’s noth­ing for me to tes­tify about,” that he isn’t a “fact” wit­ness and that Repub­li­cans are only try­ing to “mol­lify the pres­i­dent, and that’s not a good rea­son to try to call a mem­ber of Congress as a wit­ness.”

Democrats were aim­ing for a fi­nal House vote by Christ­mas, which would set the stage for a likely Se­nate trial in Jan­uary.

“I do be­lieve that all ev­i­dence cer­tainly will be in­cluded in that re­port so the Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee can make the nec­es­sary de­ci­sions that they need to,” said Rep. Val Dem­ings, DFla., a mem­ber of both the In­tel­li­gence and Ju­di­ciary com­mit­tees.

Trump has pre­vi­ously sug­gested that he might be will­ing to of­fer writ­ten tes­ti­mony un­der cer­tain con­di­tions, though aides sug­gested they did not an­tic­i­pate Democrats would ever agree to them.

Democrats had pressed Trump to de­cide by Fri­day whether he would take ad­van­tage of due process pro­tec­tions af­forded to him un­der House rules adopted in Oc­to­ber for fol­low-up hear­ings, in­clud­ing the right to re­quest wit­ness tes­ti­mony and to cross-ex­am­ine the wit­nesses called by the House.

“If you are se­ri­ous about con­duct­ing a fair process go­ing for­ward, and in or­der to pro­tect the rights and priv­i­leges of the Pres­i­dent, we may con­sider par­tic­i­pat­ing in fu­ture Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee pro­ceed­ings if you af­ford the Ad­min­is­tra­tion the abil­ity to do so mean­ing­fully,” Cipol­lone said in the Sun­day let­ter.

Collins called the hear­ing Wed­nes­day “a com­plete Amer­i­can waste of time of here.” He wanted the wit­ness list ex­panded to in­clude those sug­gested by Repub­li­cans. “This is why this is a prob­lem­atic ex­er­cise and sim­ply a made­for-TV event com­ing on Wed­nes­day.”

Still, Rep. Tom McClin­tock, R-Calif., a Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee mem­ber, said he be­lieves Trump would ben­e­fit if he presents his own de­fense. McClin­tock said he doesn’t be­lieve Trump did any­thing wrong in the July 25 call with Ze­len­skiy that is at the heart of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

“He didn’t use the del­i­cate lan­guage of diplo­macy in that con­ver­sa­tion, that’s true. He also doesn’t use the smarmy talk of politi­cians,” McClin­tock said.

ALEX BRAN­DON — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS FILE

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump speaks dur­ing a cer­e­mony for new Sec­re­tary of De­fense Mark Esper at the Pen­tagon. If there was one day that crys­tal­lized all the forces that led to the im­peach­ment in­ves­ti­ga­tion of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, it was July 25. That was the day of his phone call with Ukraine’s new leader, press­ing him for a po­lit­i­cal fa­vor.

BILL O’LEARY — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

House In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee Chair­man Adam Schiff, D-Calif., gives fi­nal re­marks dur­ing a hear­ing where for­mer White House na­tional se­cu­rity aide Fiona Hill, and David Holmes, a U.S. diplo­mat in Ukraine, tes­ti­fied be­fore the House In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee on Capi­tol Hill in Wash­ing­ton.

JACQUELYN MARTIN — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Rep. Val Dem­ings, D-Fla., ques­tions Jen­nifer Wil­liams, an aide to Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence, and Na­tional Se­cu­rity Coun­cil aide Lt. Col. Alexan­der Vind­man, as they tes­tify be­fore the House In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee.

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