World

White House refusal on impeachment hearing

By AAP Newswire

The White House has refused to take part in US House of Representatives hearings next week that will consider what articles of impeachment to bring against President Donald Trump.

In a letter to Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, White House counsel Pat Cipollone on Friday called the Democrats' impeachment inquiry "completely baseless".

Cipollone said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had ordered Democrats to proceed with articles of impeachment "before your committee has heard a single shred of evidence".

"We don't see any reason to participate because the process is unfair," a senior administration official added off-record.

"We haven't been given any fair opportunity to participate. The Speaker has already announced the predetermined result and they will not give us the ability to call any witnesses."

Pelosi on Thursday asked the Judiciary Committee to draw up formal charges against the Republican president.

The committee could draft and recommend the articles by next Thursday and the full Democratic-led House could vote on them by Christmas, imperilling Trump's presidency as his 2020 re-election campaign looms.

Pelosi in September launched the impeachment inquiry into Trump's request Ukraine investigate former vice president Joe Biden, a leading contender for the Democratic nomination in the 2020 US election.

"House Democrats have wasted enough of America's time with this charade," Cipollone's letter said. "You should end this inquiry now and not waste even more time with additional hearings."

He quoted Trump as saying "if you are going to impeach me, do it now, fast, so we can have a fair trial in the Senate, and so that our country can get back to business."

Trump has made clear his lawyers will present a defence in the Republican-controlled Senate, where he believes he will receive fair treatment.

Republican members of the House Judiciary Committee, who had also faced a Friday deadline to identify witnesses they want to call before the panel, submitted a list of eight.

They include Biden's son Hunter, the anonymous whistleblower whose complaint sparked the impeachment inquiry and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff who led the Ukraine probe.

House Republicans had already sought testimony before the Intelligence Committee from three people on the list - the whistleblower, Hunter Biden and Biden's former business associate Devon Archer.

But they were turned down by Schiff and will likely receive the same response from Nadler, a Democrat.

Nadler had given Trump until 5 pm Friday local time to decide whether he or his legal counsel would participate in upcoming proceedings.

Trump, who denied any wrongdoing, thus far has refused to co-operate with the inquiry and ordered current and former administration officials not to testify or provide documents.