“There is no legal basis for Trump’s position. Hard stop.”
President Donald Trump and his administration will not participate in the Congressional impeachment inquiry, the White House announced Tuesday, setting up a constitutional crisis in the conflict between two ostensibly co-equal branches of government.
“But seriously folks this is actually a constitutional crisis.”
—Leah Greenberg, Indivisible
“There is no legal basis for Trump’s position,” tweeted NBC analyst Katie Phang. “Hard stop.”
“The Trump administration’s flat refusal to cooperate with congressional oversight is, itself, impeachable,” tweeted Vox‘s Ezra Klein.
9-page letter just released from the White House claims impeachment inquiry is illegitimate and Trump Administration won’t cooperate or participate in the process.
There is no legal basis for Trump’s position. Hard stop. https://t.co/Sm34aqYTuH
— Katie Phang (@KatiePhang) October 8, 2019
The news sparked a call from Credo Action co-director Heidi Hess for immediate impeachment.
“It’s absolutely outrageous that Donald Trump sent a letter to Congress informing them that he is above the Constitution and every law in America,” said Hess. “House Democrats need to move immediately and use all the power at their disposal to compel testimony and delivery of documents, hold administration officials accountable for their contempt of Congress, and draft articles of impeachment that span all of Trump’s crimes.”
“If Speaker Pelosi and leadership continue to drag their feet, they are giving tacit approval of the ridiculous arguments laid out in the White House counsel’s letter,” Hess added. “We can’t wait any longer.”
White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement that the administration would not cooperate with the inquiry and seemingly closed the door on any negotiations.
“The Executive Branch cannot be expected to, and will not participate in, this exercise of partisan political theater,” said Grisham.
INBOX: The @WhiteHouse has sent a letter to @SpeakerPelosi, @RepAdamSchiff, @RepCummings & @RepEliotEngel, rejecting their authority to run an impeachment probe without a vote. pic.twitter.com/ysxAieq27S
— Andrew Feinberg (@AndrewFeinberg) October 8, 2019
As NBC reported Tuesday, the inquiry is not baseless:
House Democrats launched the impeachment inquiry last month amid reports of Trump’s July phone conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, during which he asked Zelenskiy to “look into” former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Trump’s decision to unexpectedly freeze nearly $400 million in military aid to the Ukraine days before the call has led to allegations that he was attempting a quid pro quo arrangement.
The letter announcing the administration’s refusal to cooperate was written by the president’s White House counsel Pat Cipollone. Cipollone argued that the impeachment inquiry is a “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.”
Furthermore, Cipollone writes, the inquiry is “constitutionally invalid and a violation of due process.”
“The President cannot allow your constitutionally illegitimate proceedings to distract him and those in the Executive Branch from their work on behalf of the American people,” the nine-page letter concludes. “The President has a country to lead.”
“This would be funny if it weren’t so delusional.”
Those claims by the White House, however, met with immediate pushback, with Politico journalist Andrew Desiderio pointing out that Cipollone’s letter read “more like a political document than a legal document.”
“This would be funny if it weren’t so delusional,” tweeted progressive group MoveOn in response to the announcement. “The House is completely within its rights to hold impeachment hearings.”
Earlier Tuesday, as Common Dreams reported, the president’s lawyers said that the Watergate case against then-President Richard Nixon was improperly decided and that if the case came before the court today, there would be a “different result.”
“Wow, okay,” said U.S. District Court Judge Beryl Howell. “The department is taking an extraordinary position in this case.”
The strategy was summed up by Washington Post reporter Dave Weigel on Twitter.
“Can’t indict a president for possible wrongdoing while he’s in office; can’t impeach a president over possible wrongdoing because he was elected and therefore ‘no backsies,'” tweeted Weigel. “Real moral hazard hours.”
Indivisible’s Leah Greenberg laid out the stakes.
“But seriously folks this is actually a constitutional crisis,” said Greenberg.
CNN conservative zaps every Trump supporters’ argument against impeachment
Republican-turned-Independent David Gergen served in four presidential administrations, two of which were impeached. When he heard one of President Donald Trump's shills on CNN Wednesday evening, he was quick to flatten the argument.
Scott Jennings argued that what Democrats were doing was unprecedented, but CNN commentator Kirsten Powers said that former President Bill Clinton was nearly thrown out of office for lying about an affair, something she argued was far less important than extorting a foreign power to sway a presidential election.
Seth Meyers flattens Trump’s latest impeachment defense tactic — ‘slurring like a lunatic’ during rallies
Late-night comedian Seth Meyers observed that most people who were inches from being fired from their job would try and prove that they should remain. President Donald Trump, however, has taken a different path, "slurring like a lunatic while throwing in some of his trademark sexism."
Meyers played a clip of Trump's rally where he went after everything from admitting he demanded the Ukraine president say what he asked and an allegation that there'd be windmills all over the country under Hillary Clinton. Trump previously alleged that wind energy is dangerous because the windmills cause ear cancer. After an attack on Beto O'Rourke, Trump turned to Elizabeth Warren, who he said, "opened her fresh mouth."
Rachel Maddow wonders if Putin told Trump Seoul was nowhere near North Korea to mess with him
MSNBC host Rachel Maddow was flabbergasted by the recent revelation that Trump thought he could displace an entire South Korean city so that the 2,000 year-old capital would be safer. To make matters worse, President Donald Trump asked Russian President Vladimir Putin what he wanted the U.S. leader to do with North Korea.
The host compared the move to what it would be like to move the entirety of New York City, which has a smaller population than Seoul.