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US House Judiciary to hold first impeachment hearing

Session scheduled next week as Chairman Jerry Nadler asks Trump to notify him of possible participation

Michael Hernandez   | 26.11.2019
US House Judiciary to hold first impeachment hearing

WASHINGTON

The House of Representatives Judiciary Committee will hold its first hearing on the impeachment of U.S. President Donald Trump next week, its chairman announced Tuesday.

Jerry 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 no later than Dec. 1, and notify him on that day of who will serve as the president's counsel.

The hearing will examine the historical constitutional grounds for impeachment, Nadler wrote, maintaining that the impeachment process' procedures and privileges afforded to Trump have been consistent with those given to former Presidents Bill Clinton and Richard Nixon.

"I remain committed to ensuring a fair and informative process," Nadler wrote. "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 courtesy which is being extended to the President's counsel.' I am hopeful that you and your counsel will opt to participate."

The House Intelligence Committee, meanwhile, is expected to submit its report on its findings to Nadler soon after lawmakers return from the Thanksgiving holiday next week.

The House 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 hold-up $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.

Roughly a dozen witnesses have offered sworn public testimony before Schiff's committee with Trump's EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland saying last week that the president directed a quid pro quo scheme.

Sondland said there was a “clear quid pro quo” of making U.S. military aid and a White House visit contingent on Zelensky publicly announcing the investigations.

"I know that members of this Committee frequently frame these complicated issues in the form of a simple question: Was there a quid pro quo?" said Sondland. "With regard to the requested White House call and White House meeting, the answer is yes."

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