Trump rips impeachment hearing during NATO summit
"Heading to Europe to represent our Country and fight hard for the American People while the Do Nothing Democrats purposely scheduled an Impeachment Hoax hearing on the same date as NATO," Trump said on Twitter.
Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler announced last week that the panel would hold its first hearing on Trump's impeachment this Wednesday.
Nadler said in a letter to the president that the hearing will take place Dec. 4, asking Trump if he and his counsel plan to attend the session. Nadler requested Trump provide notice of his or his counsel's desire to attend.
The White House said neither Trump nor his counsel, Pat Cipollone, would attend the hearing. Cippolone said in a letter to Nadler that the witnesses are still to be named and it remains unclear whether the committee will provide Trump with a fair process through further hearings.
"More importantly, an invitation to an academic discussion with law professors does not begin to provide the President with any semblance of a fair process," said Cipollone. "Accordingly, under the current circumstances, we do not intend to participate in your Wednesday hearing."
Asked why neither he nor his lawyer will attend the hearing, Trump told reporters at the White House shortly before he departed for the NATO leaders summit in London that he made the decision "because the whole thing is a hoax."
"Everybody knows it," Trump said. "It's an absolute disgrace what they're doing to our country."
Mike Pompeo, Trump's top diplomat, further echoed the president's criticism regarding the timing of the Judiciary Committee's hearing telling Fox News that the Democratic-run House of Representatives is seeking "to distract America's president from his important mission overseas."
"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. It's very unfortunate," Pompeo said.
The House's ongoing impeachment investigation is centered on Trump's repeated requests to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to open criminal investigations into Democratic candidate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, as well as claims that it was Ukraine, not Russia, who meddled in the 2016 election.
Also at issue is the holdup of $400 million in congressionally appropriated military aid to Ukraine and whether Trump conditioned the release of that assistance and a possible Oval Office meeting with Zelensky on the Ukrainian president publicly announcing the investigations.
Trump has repeatedly lashed out at the impeachment probe as a "witch hunt" and denied wrongdoing, ordering his top officials not to participate in the proceedings.
Roughly a dozen witnesses have offered sworn public testimony before House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff.