White House Issues Defiant Letter Refusing To Cooperate In Impeachment Proceedings

The White House continued along its ill-considered strategy of refusing to cooperate in an impeachment inquiry. I have previously written that Speaker Nancy Pelosi has made a fundamental error in not securing a vote of the House to commence an impeachment investigation. However, the letter issued by the White House counsel further undermines the case for executive privilege arguments and could reinforce obstruction allegations in any final articles of impeachment.

The letter rightfully raises concerns over the lack of a House vote of the body and the secrecy of proceedings. The Democrats have limited Republicans in their effort to question witnesses and secure material. However, that is not a legitimate basis for refusing to cooperate or supply clearly material evidence.

The letter emphasizes a lack of due process in the proceedings. The Constitution does not guarantee such rights as confrontation. Indeed, it does not expressly require anything other than a vote of the House on impeachment and a majority threshold for any referral of the matter to the Senate for trial.

Once again, past impeachments (like the one that I handled) have allowed for witness examinations and some adversarial process. That should be the case here. There is clearly an effort by Democrats to prevent serious questioning of witnesses by Republican members. That is not a good practice and undermines the impeachment investigation.

However, none of that justifies the position of the White House. This is a constitutional function of the highest order for Congress. There is a legitimate basis for congressional investigation under both its oversight and impeachment authority. If proven, these allegations of self-dealing could be a basis for articles of impeachment. A President cannot simply pick up his marbles and leave the game because he does not like the other players. A refusal to cooperate with a constitutionally mandated process can itself be an abuse of power.

Worse yet, the letter again undermines the executive privilege arguments that will be key to any court fight. I discussed yesterday how Trump’s tweet about wanting an ambassador to testify (but blocking him because he does not trust the committee) is the death knell for a privilege claim. A president cannot withhold material evidence because he does not like the other party in control of a house of Congress. It must be based on a claim that disclosure, even to a co-equal branch, would undermine national security or diplomatic relations or essential confidential communications. This letter repeats that flawed premise for refusing to cooperate. It is a curious move since tweets by Trump could be dismissed (as the Justice Department did in the immigration litigation) as not reflective of the real position of the government. Now, the White House counsel himself has embraced those same arguments.

The letter is another avoidable self-inflicted wound by a White House that seems intent on counter-punching itself into an impeachment. There are defenses here as well as viable privilege arguments. This letter however is eviscerating those defenses with a reckless abandon.

367 thoughts on “White House Issues Defiant Letter Refusing To Cooperate In Impeachment Proceedings”

  1. Could you cite the authority on which you rely when you make these statements.

  2. Nice article about why the Left demands Trump be more “Presidential” and give up Twitter:

    The mayor of Livermore California explains Trump’s popularity and success. This is perhaps the best explanation for Trump’s popularity
    Published on June 16, 2018
    Julian McCall

    Marshall Kamena is a registered Democrat and was elected mayor of Livermore, CA.. He ran on the democratic ticket as he knew a Bay Area city would never vote for a Republican. He is as conservative as they come. He wrote the following from an article, originally written by Evan Sayet and his opinion he expressed as a columnists for Townhall.com were his own and did not represent the views of Townhall.com, were mistakenly attributed to Marshall Kamena by me.

    Trump’s ‘lack of decorum, dignity, and statesmanship’ By Evan Sayet in his article “He Fights

    My Leftist friends (as well as many ardent #NeverTrumpers) constantly ask me if I’m not bothered by Donald Trump’s lack of decorum. They ask if I don’t think his tweets are “beneath the dignity of the office.”

    Here’s my answer: We Right-thinking people have tried dignity. There could not have been a man of more quiet dignity than George W. Bush as he suffered the outrageous lies and politically motivated hatreds that undermined his presidency.

    We tried statesmanship.

    Could there be another human being on this earth who so desperately prized “collegiality” as John McCain?

    We tried propriety – has there been a nicer human being ever than Mitt Romney?

    And the results were always the same. This is because, while we were playing by the rules of dignity, collegiality and propriety, the Left has been, for the past 60 years, engaged in a knife fight where the only rules are those of Saul Alinsky and the Chicago mob.

    I don’t find anything “dignified,” “collegial” or “proper” about Barack Obama’s lying about what went down on the streets of Ferguson in order to ramp up racial hatreds because racial hatreds serve the Democratic Party.

    I don’t see anything “dignified” in lying about the deaths of four Americans in Benghazi and imprisoning an innocent filmmaker to cover your tracks.

    I don’t see anything “statesman-like” in weaponizing the IRS to be used to destroy your political opponents and any dissent.

    Yes, Obama was “articulate” and “polished” but in no way was he in the least bit “dignified,” “collegial” or “proper.”

    The Left has been engaged in a war against America since the rise of the Children of the ‘60’s. To them, it has been an all-out war where nothing is held sacred and nothing is seen as beyond the pale.. It has been a war they’ve fought with violence, the threat of violence, demagoguery and lies from day one – the violent take-over of the universities – till today.

    The problem is that, through these years, the Left has been the only side fighting this war. While the Left has been taking a knife to anyone who stands in their way, the Right has continued to act with dignity, collegiality and propriety.

    With Donald Trump, this all has come to an end. Donald Trump is America ’s first wartime president in the Culture War.

    During wartime, things like “dignity” and “collegiality” simply aren’t the most essential qualities one looks for in their warriors. Ulysses Grant was a drunk whose behavior in peacetime might well have seen him drummed out of the Army for conduct unbecoming.

    Had Abraham Lincoln applied the peacetime rules of propriety and booted Grant, the Democrats might well still be holding their slaves today.

    Lincoln rightly recognized that, “I cannot spare this man. He fights.”

    General George Patton was a vulgar-talking.. In peacetime, this might have seen him stripped of rank. But, had Franklin Roosevelt applied the normal rules of decorum then, Hitler and the Socialists would barely be five decades into their thousand-year Reich.

    Trump is fighting. And what’s particularly delicious is that, like Patton standing over the battlefield as his tanks obliterated Rommel’s, he’s shouting, “You magnificent bastards, I read your book!”

    That is just the icing on the cake, but it’s wonderful to see that not only is Trump fighting, he’s defeating the Left using their own tactics. That book is Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals – a book so essential to the Liberals’ war against America that it is and was the playbook for the entire Obama administration and the subject of Hillary Clinton’s senior thesis.

    It is a book of such pure evil, that, just as the rest of us would dedicate our book to those we most love or those to whom we are most indebted, Alinsky dedicated his book to Lucifer.

    Trump’s tweets may seem rash and unconsidered but, in reality, he is doing exactly what Alinsky suggested his followers do. First, instead of going after “the fake media” — and they are so fake that they have literally gotten every single significant story of the past 60 years not just wrong, but diametrically opposed to the truth, from the Tet Offensive to Benghazi, to what really happened on the streets of Ferguson, Missouri — Trump isolated CNN.. He made it personal.

    Then, just as Alinsky suggests, he employs ridicule which Alinsky described as “the most powerful weapon of all.”… Most importantly, Trump’s tweets have put CNN in an untenable and unwinnable position. … They need to respond.

    This leaves them with only two choices. They can either “go high” (as Hillary would disingenuously declare of herself and the fake news would disingenuously report as the truth) and begin to honestly and accurately report the news or they can double-down on their usual tactics and hope to defeat Trump with twice their usual hysteria and demagoguery. The problem for CNN (et al.) with the former is that, if they were to start honestly reporting the news, that would be the end of the Democratic Party they serve. It is nothing but the incessant use of fake news (read: propaganda) that keeps the Left alive.

    Imagine, for example, if CNN had honestly and accurately reported then-candidate Barack Obama’s close ties to foreign terrorists (Rashid Khalidi), domestic terrorists (William Ayers & Bernardine Dohrn), the mafia (Tony Rezko) or the true evils of his spiritual mentor, Jeremiah Wright’s church.

    Imagine if they had honestly and accurately conveyed the evils of the Obama administration’s weaponizing of the IRS to be used against their political opponents or his running of guns to the Mexican cartels or the truth about the murder of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and the Obama administration’s cover-up.

    So, to my friends on the Left — and the #NeverTrumpers as well — do I wish we lived in a time when our president could be “collegial” and “dignified” and “proper”? Of course I do.

    These aren’t those times. This is war. And it’s a war that the Left has been fighting without opposition for the past 50 years.

    So, say anything you want about this president – I get it – he can be vulgar, he can be crude, he can be undignified at times. I don’t care. I can’t spare this man. He fights for America!

      1. “Yep, that GWB is one heck of a guy.”

        I’m not a fan of GWB and never have been but he was dignified and stayed removed from the ruckus. His policies were a different story, something to be debated.That is what the article was talking about but Anonymous doesn’t read very well and his mind is dull.

        1. Sorry, but “staying dignified and removed from the ruckus” ….by staying silent, not defending himself, not standing UP to the smears, lies, and foul play of the Democrats and their Media, was a mistake in my view. It is not an admirable trait to be a doormat, and let your opponents run roughshod over you. Obama had plenty of cheerleaders rooting for him by way of hollywood and all the loudmouths and ignoramuses on TV. George W. Bush did not. He took incoming daily. And never fought back. Even after he left office, he never fought back. He let Obama smear him for eight MORE years. Sorry, but I don’t respect Bush’s silence.

          This is why Trump is a breath of fresh air. Punch back harder than they punched you. Yep. Go get ’em President Trump.

          1. I don’t know which anonymous I am talking to but I didn’t say what you think I said. I stated “I’m not a fan of GWB ” and then stated two of GWB characteristics that are good in certain circumstances but not so good in others. Things get confusing since the earlier comment revealed ignorance and the latter comment indicated a lack of comprehension which may be excusable in this type of discussion. We both believe a President cannot be a doormat and that Trump is a breath of fresh air.

            Are you the Stupid Anonymous, the anonymous that had a red icon, Fido, or any of the other potential anonymi? The nature of a blog like this means that I have to assume all annonymi are either the Stupid Anonymous or Fido.

    1. Great article. Needs to be required reading. People forget where Obama learned the ropes: Chicago. Nearly all of Obama’s political team was marinated in playing politics “the Chicago Way”…..with Trump, they’ve met their match.

      1. observe that the time from which the ATF’s Elliot Ness was chasing Al Capone, to when the FBI finally penetrated and defanged the Chicago Outfit with successful prosecutions, was literally from Prohibition all the way up until around 1990.

        We better get a grip on the situation faster than that!

  3. He’s Nuts!

    Trump Makes Insane Comments About Syrian Kurds Today

    President Trump said Wednesday that it would be “easy” for the United States to form new alliances if Syrian Kurds leave the fight against the Islamic State to fend off a Turkish attack, noting that “they didn’t help us in the Second World War, they didn’t help us in Normandy” and were only interested in fighting for “their land.”

    “With all of that being said, we like the Kurds,” he said in response to questions about Turkey’s incursion into Syria.

    Trump’s off-the-cuff remarks, following a White House ceremony where he signed unrelated executive orders, came as the administration continued an effort to correct what it has called the misimpression that Trump enabled the offensive against the U.S.-allied Kurds that Turkey launched Wednesday. The president spoke with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, on Sunday.

    In an earlier written statement, Trump urged Turkey to protect civilians and safeguard prisons where Islamic State fighters are being detained, saying the United States would hold its NATO ally responsible for the consequences of its decision to attack a key U.S. counterterrorism partner.

    Edited from: “Trump Downplay U.S. Alliance With Syrian Kurds, Saying They Didn’t Help Us In World War II”

    This evening’s Washington Post

    First Trump abandons one of our most reliable allies, then as they fight for survival, he notes they didn’t back us up on ‘D’ Day. These remarks alone cast serious doubt on Trump’s mental state. In a normal America people would say this president is bat s**t crazy!

  4. A refusal to cooperate with a constitutionally mandated process can itself be an abuse of power.

    Preface: Trump is an SOB (as are most politicians) but that doesn’t mean we should destroy what remains of the nation in order to sate the mass psychosis inflicting democrats that was brought about by Hillary Clinton’s (ie SOB) hubristic self-destruction in 2016.

    Mr. Turley – you’ve typed it yourself:

    The letter rightfully raises concerns over the lack of a House vote of the body and the secrecy of proceedings. The Democrats have limited Republicans in their effort to question witnesses and secure material.

    The House has not voted on nor debated any impeachment inquiry matters.

    How do you call that a constitutionally mandated process?

    It’s called being railroaded.

    The transcript of Trump’s phone call with Zelensky has been in the public domain for weeks. You have explicitly stated there was no quid pro quo requested or granted.

    If the House would like to debate and vote on an impeachment inquiry (eg constitutionally mandated process) it needs to bring the matter to the floor for the full House to vote and debate and should the inquiry pass muster allow the minority party to fully participate.

    Anything short of open debate and vote in the House exposes the tissue paper thin guise of a political dog and pony show emceed by the dictatress of the House – Nancy “rule of law” Pelosi.

    Disclosure: The author of this comment would like to impeach the entirety of the US government and start anew. These people are sickening.

    1. “Dictatress of the House” Hahahaha.

      And yes, these people are sickening.

      Trump 2020.

    2. “Disclosure: The author of this comment would like to impeach the entirety of the US government and start anew.”

      Good idea. Electing Trump was a start in the right direction.


      “President Donald Trump announced two new executive orders Wednesday seeking to reform bureaucratic guidelines to make federal agencies more transparent and accountable.

      “We are reforming the bureaucracy to make it lean, responsive, and accountable,” Trump said announcing the new directives. “And we are ensuring our laws are enforced fairly.”…..

      ….The Obama administration was notorious for its unelected bureaucrats bypassing the legislative process to pass new regulations with the force of law vaguely defined to allow for broad interpretation and steep consequences…..

      …..Regulatory rollback has been a top priority for the Trump administration. It has repealed scores of regulations passed by unelected officials running the nation’s federal bureaucracy.”


    1. “Things just don’t add up regarding the whole CIA ‘whistleblower’ complaint. The complaint was filed in August, but the whistleblower forms weren’t updated until September and backdated to August. How could the initial whistleblower complaint be provided in August if the forms weren’t available at that time?”


  5. I think this is what Americans needed to rally us to throw out the Pelosi / Schumer / Nadler / AOC / anti-Kavanaugh Left wing bat sheet crazy Dims. Maybe, just maybe, the war initiated by Pelosi against the US voters who elected Trump in 2016, is exactly what Americans need to finally rid us of the cancer that Pelosi et al represent

    Our anger and disgust, percolating since Roe v Wade c. 1973, and crescendo since the1990s from the fiasco of the Clinton / Clinton News Network regime, have now morphed into bayonets and torches. Woo hoo! Trump overthrew the Clinton Machinery and maybe he will rally us to overthrow the jackals of the Dims. What a glorious thought.


    Back to You, Nancy

    Trump calls the Speaker’s bluff on her impeachment tactics.

    The Editorial Board

    Oct. 9, 2019 7:20 pm ET

    The White House letter late Tuesday telling Speaker Nancy Pelosi that President Trump won’t cooperate with her impeachment inquiry is causing heartburn among all the usual suspects. Readers should ignore the fainting spells over “a constitutional crisis” and keep in mind that this is largely a political response to a political attack by House Democrats.

    “Your inquiry is constitutionally invalid and a violation of due process,” wrote White House counsel Pat Cipollone, who lists the due-process protections that the House is denying Mr. Trump as it pursues impeachment. He’s right about due process but wrong to dress this up in constitutional clothes.

    No doubt Mr. Cipollone is doing this for political effect, since he knows that under the Constitution the House can organize impeachment more or less as it wants. The House is under no constitutional obligation to allow Mr. Trump’s lawyers to cross-examine witnesses, as if impeachment were a criminal proceeding. Like the President’s pardon power, the House’s impeachment power is among the least fettered in America’s founding charter.

    Mr. Cipollone is trying to make a political point about the unprecedented secret and unfair way the House is proceeding on impeachment, and on that he’s entirely correct. As we’ve been writing, Mrs. Pelosi has refused to let the House vote on a resolution authorizing an official impeachment inquiry with rules that define the scope and procedures.

    This contrasts with how the House worked in both the Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton impeachments. Mr. Cipollone is now using the lack of a House vote to justify the White House refusal to cooperate with witnesses and documents “under these circumstances.” Mr. Cipollone holds out the prospect of cooperating if Mrs. Pelosi holds such a vote.

    Think of this as a “back to you, Nancy” memo. She now faces a political choice of her own. She could treat Mr. Trump’s lack of cooperation as one more impeachable offense, add it to whatever the House decides to do about Mr. Trump’s phone call with Ukraine’s president, and impeach Mr. Trump on those grounds. Joe Biden endorsed impeachment on this basis Wednesday. But this rush to impeach might not persuade anyone who hasn’t wanted to oust Mr. Trump since January 2017.

    On the other hand, Mrs. Pelosi could let the House vote to authorize an inquiry with regular order and rules that give the minority subpoena power and have everything done in public. This was the House standard for Nixon-Clinton. The risk for Mrs. Pelosi is that she might lose some House Democrats on such a vote without gaining many Republicans—which would make the partisan nature of the exercise clear and undermine its public credibility.

    She’d still face fights over access to White House documents and witnesses, though she’d be in a stronger position to prevail in the courts. These legal fights are hardly new, by the way, and hardly “norm-breaking.” A President and Congress controlled by opposing parties fight over documents all the time.

    We don’t recall Democrats fretting when Mr. Clinton made executive-privilege claims that were more sweeping than Nixon’s during Watergate. The media that now profess horror at Mr. Trump raised not a whit of concern when Attorney General Eric Holder denied documents to Congress and was held in contempt. Just politics, they said then. Now, in their hatred of Mr. Trump, they dilate about constitutional norms they ignore when it suits them politically.

    If Mrs. Pelosi does choose to brawl over documents, she’s likely to win in court more than she loses. The House in its impeachment power can seek evidence from the executive, and the courts are likely to agree when its requests are reasonable and related to the alleged offenses being investigated. But Mr. Trump may also sometimes prevail if the House is issuing kitchen-sink subpoenas that jeopardize his ability to conduct foreign policy or communicate freely with advisers.

    No one should be surprised if the White House chooses to fight back, and hard, when Democrats are trying to remove Mr. Trump from office and brand him as “impeached” for 2020. The Pelosi Democrats are fighting ugly, and Mr. Trump is fighting ugly back.

  6. Legal Experts? The same one’s that have been circumventing Constitutional Law for over a hundred years. Physician heal thyself.

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