The top Democrat leading the House Judiciary Committee has announced the date of its first public impeachment hearing, issuing a personal invitation to President Donald Trump either to attend or “stop complaining about the process.”
After the House Intelligence Committee concluded a round of interviews with Trump administration officials regarding the president’s alleged attempts to pressure Ukraine into announcing an investigation of Joe Biden and his son, the hearings will now move to the House Judiciary Committee, where articles of impeachment could be drawn up.
Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler released a letter today announcing the start of public hearings next week, inviting Trump and his lawyers to participate, according to NBC News.
“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 before us,” Nadler wrote.
Trump has frequently complained that the impeachment process is unfair both to him and Republicans on the committee, claiming that Republicans have been shut out of proceedings. In the first round of interviews, which took place in secured rooms in Congress to protect classified information, a group of congressional Republicans staged a protest in which they stormed into a room during a deposition, claiming that they had been unfairly kept out of the process.
But many pointed out that there were Republicans on the three committees leading the private depositions and that they were given equal time to question witnesses. Others noted that some of the Republicans who took part in the protest were actually members of the committees and could have attended the meeting if they chose to.
Republicans have also been accused of backing Trump’s baseless conspiracy theories regarding Ukraine interfering in the 2016 presidential election and of Joe Biden trying to keep his son’s business dealings in Ukraine from being investigated.
Trump has complained that he hasn’t had an opportunity to defend himself against the accusations. It is not clear what opportunity he would have to directly respond to allegations during next week’s hearing.
It does not appear that the process is close to the stage of drawing up articles of impeachment or voting on them. The first hearing will focus on “Constitutional Grounds for Presidential Impeachment,” Nadler’s letter announced. It seems unlikely that Trump will be in attendance for the first impeachment hearing next week, as he is scheduled to travel to London for a meeting of NATO leaders early in the week.