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  • Trump's lawyers won't participate in the impeachment hearing this week, citing a lack of

    Trump's lawyers won't participate in the impeachment hearing this week, citing a lack of "fundamental justice. | Photo: Reuters

Published 2 December 2019

The House Judiciary Committee had given Trump until Sunday to decide whether to send a lawyer to participate in Wednesday's proceedings.

The White House told Democratic lawmakers Sunday that President Donald Trump and his lawyers would not participate in an impeachment hearing in Congress this week, citing a lack of "fundamental justice."

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Trump's aides responded defiantly to the first of two crucial deadlines he faces in Congress this week as Democrats prepare to shift the focus of their fact-finding probe to the consideration of possible charges of misconduct over their relations with Ukraine.

The House Judiciary Committee, headed by Democrats and responsible for considering the charges, had given Trump until 18h00 Sunday to decide whether to send a lawyer to participate in Wednesday's judicial panel proceedings.

"We cannot be expected to participate in a hearing until witnesses have been named and until it is clear whether the Judicial Committee will give the President a fair trial through additional hearings," White House Attorney Pat Cipollone wrote to Judicial Committee Chairman, Jerrold Nadler.

Cipollone, while citing the "total lack of due process and fundamental impartiality towards the president" in the impeachment process, did not rule out his participation in other proceedings.

Nadler has given the White House a Friday deadline to say if Trump will build a defense in a broader impeachment process.

The Democratic Judiciary Committee staff didn’t immediately comment on the White House's refusal to participate in the hearing this Wednesday.

"Not a single complaint made by the President and his Republican allies in Congress so far has turned out to be genuine,"  U.S. Democrat Rep. Don Beyer said on Twitter in response to the White House letter.

The Ukraine scandal is the result of a whistleblower from within the U.S. intelligence community lodging a complaint with an internal watchdog about Trump’s conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

The July 25 call, which was later released by the White House, confirmed that the U.S. president asked Zelenskiy to investigate his political rival in coordination with the U.S. attorney general and Trump’s personal lawyer,  which in turn occurred after Trump had ordered a freeze of nearly US$400 million in U.S. aid to Ukraine, which the administration only later released.

Federal election law prohibits candidates from accepting foreign help in an election.

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