The White House declared Tuesday it will not cooperate with what it termed an "illegitimate" impeachment probe by House Democrats, setting up a constitutional clash between President Trump and Congress. Trump attorneys sent a letter to House leaders bluntly stating their refusal to participate in the quickly moving impeachment investigation. The letter threatens to cease cooperation with Capitol Hill on key oversight matters, accusing lawmakers of formulating their probe "in a manner that violates fundamental fairness and constitutionally mandated due process." "Given that your inquiry lacks any legitimate constitutional foundation, any pretense of fairness, or even the most elementary due process protections, the Executive Branch cannot be expected to participate in it," White House Counsel Pat Cipollone wrote.
The White House is objecting that the House did not formally vote to begin the impeachment inquiry into Trump and is also attacking the conduct of House intelligence committee Chairman Adam Schiff, the AP reports. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has insisted the House is well within its rules to conduct oversight of the executive branch under the Constitution regardless of a vote. The letter comes the same day that Trump intensified his fight with Congress by blocking Gordon Sondland, the US European Union ambassador, from testifying behind closed doors about the president's dealings with Ukraine. (More on that here.)