Judiciary Committee announces December impeachment hearing, invites Trump to participate

The House Judiciary Committee is taking over the next phase of the impeachment inquiry into President Trump as Chairman Jerrold Nadler announced plans for a hearing next week to weigh whether the president's actions reach a level of “high crimes and misdemeanors" and warrant articles of impeachment.

Nadler, D-N.Y., penned a letter to the president on Tuesday announcing a hearing for Dec. 4 at 10 a.m., and notifying him of the committee’s intentions to provide him with “certain privileges” while they consider "whether to recommend articles of impeachment to the full House.”

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Nadler also extended an invitation to the president, asking whether “you and your counsel plan to attend the hearing or make a request to question the witness panel.”

“If you would like to participate in the hearing, please provide the Committee with notice as soon as possible, but no later than by 6 p.m. December 1, 2019,” Nadler wrote. “By that time, I ask that you also indicate who will act as your counsel for these proceedings.”

Nadler added: “I remain committed to ensuring a fair and informative process. To that end, I remind you that participation by the President or his counsel has been described by the Committee in past inquiries as ‘not a right but a privilege or a courtesy which is being extended to the President’s counsel.’”

“I am hopeful that you and your counsel will opt to participate in the Committee’s hearing, consistent with the rules of decorum and with the solemn nature of the work before us,” he continued.

Nadler did warn, however, that if the president and the White House “continue to refuse to make witnesses and documents available to the committees of jurisdiction,” he will “have the discretion to impose appropriate remedies.”

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Nadler’s letter and invitation to the president comes just one day after House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said he and other committee chairs involved in the impeachment inquiry—Oversight Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., and Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel, D-N.Y.,—were “preparing a report summarizing the evidence we have found thus far, which will be transmitted to the Judiciary Committee soon after Congress returns from the Thanksgiving recess.”

It is unclear at this point whether the president will appear or have his counsel participate in the hearing before the Judiciary Committee next week.

Last week, the president blasted the impeachment inquiry altogether, and said: “Frankly, I want a trial.”

At the center of the impeachment inquiry, which began in September, is Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukraine's president. That call prompted a whistleblower complaint to the intelligence community inspector general, and in turn, the impeachment inquiry in the House. Trump challenged the accuracy of the complaint, though the transcript released by the White House did support the core allegations that he pressed for politically related investigations.

The president’s request came after millions in U.S. military aid to Ukraine had been frozen, which Democrats and witnesses have claimed shows a "quid pro quo" arrangement. Trump denies any wrongdoing.