House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler Monday criticized the White House for refusing to participate in the panel’s first impeachment hearing.
The New York Democrat called the White House’s response “unfortunate,” saying it was a priority to have the administration participate in the impeachment inquiry.
Mr. Nadler also took a pointed shot at President Trump’s defense of his phone call with the Ukrainian president at the center of the impeachment inquiry. Mr. Trump has defended the call as “perfect.”
During the July 25 phone call, Mr. Trump repeatedly pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate the 2016 election and also 2020 Democratic presidential front-runner Joseph R. Biden and his son Hunter. Democrats have alleged the call amounted to “quid pro quo,” because Mr. Trump was asking for help in the upcoming election.
“The American people deserve transparency,” Mr. Nadler said. “If the president thinks the call was ‘perfect’ and there is nothing to hide, then he would turn over the thousands of pages of documents requested by Congress and allow witnesses to testify, instead of blocking testimony with baseless privilege claims, and provide exculpatory information that refutes his overwhelming abuse of power.”
Mr. Nadler scheduled the hearing for Wednesday, and it will feature the testimony of legal scholars.
The White House informed Mr. Nadler on Sunday that it would not take part in the impeachment hearing. In a scathing five-page letter, White House Counsel Pat Cipollone blasted the hearing as “baseless” and “partisan.”
“An invitation to an academic discussion with law professors does not begin to provide the president with any semblance of a fair process,” Mr. Cipollone wrote.
Mr. Nadler has yet to identify the witnesses, but the committee’s top Republican, Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia, has asked for an equal number of academics selected by both parties.