WH refuses to participate in 1st impeachment hearing

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The White House has told Democrats that US President Donald Trump will not send legal counsel to take part in a congressional impeachment hearing this week, citing a lack of "fundamental fairness".

As the House impeachment inquiry moves this week from the fact-gathering stage in the Intelligence Committee to considerations of law in the Judiciary Committee, the White House says President Trump does not intend to participate in a Wednesday hearing.

With a mammoth field of 18 hopefuls vying to take on U.S. President Donald Trump, the Democratic Party is being roiled by debate over the best candidate to win back the White House in November 2020.

Democratic Chairman Adam Schiff has said the committee could hold more depositions and hearings, but he won't allow the Trump administration to stall the impeachment inquiry and prevent the Judiciary Committee from moving ahead.

Trump himself was scheduled to attend a summit with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies outside London on Wednesday. The articles could also cover matters beyond Trump's efforts to push Ukraine to investigate Democrats, including special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, but no decisions have been made.

The Republican National Committee followed the Trump campaign's lead on Monday afternoon.

In that call, President Trump asked Mr Zelensky to investigate Joe Biden, now the front runner to be the Democratic candidate in next year's presidential election, and his son Hunter Biden, who had previously worked for Ukrainian energy company Burisma. During the 2016 election, journalists from major outlets, including The Washington Post, were temporarily barred from campaign events after publishing tough coverage of Trump's rallies and campaign. As Cipollone points out, the hearing was scheduled for only five days out from the day they received Nadler's latest invitation.

President Trump departed Washington D.C. Monday to a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation gathering in London and before he left he criticized House Democrats for moving forward with impeachment proceedings.

The articles of impeachment are expected to mostly focus on Ukraine.

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If House Judiciary Republicans get their way, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) would be the first witness called as the impeachment inquiry moves forward.

The Democratic majority in the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee says their report will speak for itself when presenting possible bribery charges or "high crimes and offenses", the constitutional standard for dismissal in the United States. A fact witness testifies their personal knowledge of events while an expert witness assists the judge by offering an opinion.

As the impeachment trial looms, we talk with Republicans about the risk and rewards of standing with Trump. He said calls from Republicans for him to do so signal that "they are not serious about what they are doing".

"I do not believe it, so I'm not going to answer a hypothetical which is created to simply say that the president did something improper", Collins remarked, adding that "he did nothing improper".

"We will also discuss whether your alleged actions warrant the House's exercising its authority to adopt articles of impeachment", he added.

This isn't the first time Trump has done something like this.

He said Republicans are united in opposing impeachment and the inquiry is backfiring on Democrats, adding, "I think it is going to be a tremendous boost for the Republicans".

Schiff has brushed off demands from Trump and Republicans to testify.

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