(CNSNews.com) - In a letter to House Democrats on Tuesday, White House Counsel Pat Cipollone explained why President Trump and his administration will not cooperate with "legally unsupported demands" issued by those conducting the "impeachment inquiry."
"As you know, you have designed and implemented your inquiry in a manner that violates fundamental fairness and constitutionally mandated due process," Cipollone wrote:
For example, you have denied the President the right to cross-examine witnesses, to call witnesses, to receive transcripts of testimony, to have access to evidence, to have counsel present, and many other basic rights guaranteed to all Americans.
You have conducted your proceedings in secret. You have violated civil liberties and the separation of powers by threatening Executive Branch officials, claiming that you will seek to punish those who exercise fundamental constitutional rights and prerogatives.
All of this violates the Constitution, the rule of law, and eve1y past precedent. Never before in our history has the House of Representatives -- under the control of either political party -- taken the American people down the dangerous path you seem determined to pursue. Put simply, you seek to overturn the results of the 2016 election and deprive the American people of the President they have freely chosen.
Many Democrats now apparently view impeachment not only as a means to undo the democratic results of the last election, but as a strategy to influence the next election, which is barely more than a year away. As one member of Congress explained, he is "concerned that ifwe don't impeach the President, he will get reelected." Your highly partisan and unconstitutional effort threatens grave and lasting damage to our democratic institutions, to our system of free elections, and to the American people.
The letter notes that President Trump voluntarily released a summary of his phone call with the Ukraine president in the interests of transparency. And it notes that intelligence committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) not only made up a false version of what Trump said in the call -- and read the fake version in public; he also did not disclose that his staff had contact with the whistleblower before the complaint was lodged.
"In any event, the American people understand that Chairman Schiff cannot covertly assist with the submission of a complaint, mislead the public about his involvement, read a counterfeit version of the call to the American people, and then pretend to sit in judgment as a neutral 'investigator,’” Cipollone said.
“For these reasons, President Trump and his Administration reject your baseless, unconstitutional efforts to overturn the democratic process. Your unprecedented actions have left the President with no choice."
Schiff on Tuesday threatened to add "obstruction" to the case against President Trump because, at the last minute, the White House prevented U.S. Ambassador to the E.U. Gordon Sondland from voluntarily testifying before Schiff's committee.
However, as Cipollone noted, witnesses have the right to refuse invitations from Congress, and they also have the right to go to court to challenge a congressional subpoena, if one is issued, as happened on Tuesday in Sondland’s case. Refusing a court order to appear would constitute obstruction.
Cipollone's letter goes on for eight pages, and at one point, it quotes Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), now the Judiciary Committee chairman, as saying during the Clinton impeachment in 1998:
The effect of impeachment is to overturn the popular will of the voters. We must not overturn an election and remove a President from office except to defend our system of government or our constitutional liberties against a dire threat, and we must not do so without an overwhelming consensus of the American people. There must never be a narrowly voted impeachment or an impeachment supported by one of our major political parties and opposed by another. Such an impeachment will produce divisiveness and bitterness in our politics for years to come, and will call into question the very legitimacy of our political institutions.
You can read the full letter here.
Appearing Fox News with Laura Ingraham Tuesday night, Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani called Cipollone's letter "brilliant."
“Of course due process is necessary. Fairness -- let's call it basic fairness,” Giuliani said. “The American people, when they think about this, are going to be totally outraged, they actually want to impeach him on the testimony of hidden witnesses who are behind a curtain. We don't know who they are."
Giuliani noted that even during the Salem witch trials, the accusers were required to face the accused. The witches "had more rights" than Democrats want to give Trump, Giuliani said.
Giuliani also pointed to the rule of law: "It's very easy to give somebody rights who you like. The real question about whether you're really dedicated to the law is when you give someone you dislike those rights. And American liberals used to be very, very proud of that."
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued the following statement in response to Cipollone's letter:
For a while, the President has tried to normalize lawlessness. Now, he is trying to make lawlessness a virtue. The American people have already heard the President’s own words – ‘do us a favor, though.’ [Note: The “favor” related to the investigation into the origins of the 2016 Trump-Russia investigation, not the Bidens.]
The President’s actions threaten our national security, violate our Constitution and undermine the integrity of our elections. The White House letter is only the latest attempt to cover up his betrayal of our democracy, and to insist that the President is above the law.
“This letter is manifestly wrong, and is simply another unlawful attempt to hide the facts of the Trump Administration’s brazen efforts to pressure foreign powers to intervene in the 2020 elections. Despite the White House’s stonewalling, we see a growing body of evidence that shows that President Trump abused his office and violated his oath to ‘protect, preserve and defend the Constitution.’
The White House should be warned that continued efforts to hide the truth of the President’s abuse of power from the American people will be regarded as further evidence of obstruction.
Mr. President, you are not above the law. You will be held accountable.
However, Pelosi continues to resist a formal vote on impeachment proceedings, which would give Republicans more rights than they have as the minority in regular committee hearings.