As President Donald Trump faces an impeachment inquiry, he is openly declaring war on a co-equal branch of government.
The White House said on Tuesday that it would not cooperate with the inquiry of Trump, calling it an illegitimate effort “to overturn the results of the 2016 election.”
White House counsel Pat Cipollone argued in a scathing eight-page letter that the inquiry had denied Trump’s due process rights. Cipollone said the executive branch would no longer willingly provide testimony or documents.
House Democrats must make clear that they consider Trump’s failure to comply with their demands for information to be obstruction that could form the basis for its own article of impeachment.
The White House has blocked the interview of a key witness, Gordon D. Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, just hours before he was to appear on Capitol Hill. A senior administration official said no other witnesses or documents would be provided, putting a “full halt” to cooperation.
The president’s decision to not to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry bolsters the Democrats’ list of impeachable offenses.
At first, Trump publicly vowed to participate in the inquiry, saying that “I always cooperate” and that “we’ll work together” with Democrats, even though he considered the allegations against him to be meritless.
Trump reversed himself after investigators were given text messages that called into question his false claim that there was no quid pro quo when he pressed Ukraine’s president to investigate Democrats while dangling the prospects of a White House meeting and withholding American security assistance.
House Republicans should be opposed to Trump’s decision to block Sondland’s testimony.
Yet Republican lawmakers’ support for the White House approach to the impeach inquiry or silence has emboldened the president to behave as if he cannot be hold accountable.
Trump is demonstrating that he is preparing for a full-fledged battle.
In the White House standoff with Congress, the Democrats cannot flinch. The evidence is compelling. For the good of the country and the principle that man is above the law, the impeachment inquiry must proceed.