Trump travels to Florida as impeachment inquiry intensifies

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President Donald Trump listens during a small business roundtable in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Friday, Dec. 6, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

President Trump is traveling to Florida to attend a private fundraiser and speak at the Israeli-American Council summit Saturday night, after a week of critical developments in the House impeachment inquiry back in Washington. 

The Israeli-American Council is a Jewish organization funded by one of Mr. Trump’s supporters, billionaire Sheldon Adelson.

Mr. Trump’s trip to Florida, a critical swing state, comes a day after the White House sent a letter to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler saying the president will not participate in upcoming committee impeachment proceedings. The committee is set to hold its second hearing on Monday.

“As you know, your impeachment inquiry is completely baseless and has violated basic principles of due process and fundamental fairness,” White House counsel Pat Cipollone said in a letter to Nadler. “Whatever your course, you should choose, as the president has recently stated: ‘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.'” 

A senior administration official confirmed the letter means the White House will not participate in the proceedings.

Nadler, who informed Mr. Trump of Friday’s deadline over the Thanksgiving holiday, expressed disappointment but said “the president’s failure [to appear] will not prevent us from carrying out our solemn constitutional duty.”

The White House chose not to send any legal representation to the first Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday, where lawmakers heard eight hours of testimony from four constitutional law experts about the constitutional grounds for impeachment. Three of them said the president committed impeachable offenses in his dealings with Ukraine. The fourth scholar, who was a witness called by Republicans, said the Democrats don’t have enough evidence to impeach him.

On Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called on Democratic committee chairs to draft articles of impeachment against Mr. Trump.

“Sadly, but with confidence and humility, with allegiance to our founders, and a heart full of love for America, today I am asking our chairmen to proceed with articles of impeachment,” Pelosi said.

Given that Democrats control the House, Mr. Trump is likely to be impeached. The vote is expected to occur along party lines since Republicans consider the impeachment inquiry an overreach by Democrats and an attempt to undo the 2016 election results. White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham seemed to suggest she believes the president will be impeached.

“We look forward to a fair trial in the Senate,” she said in a statement Thursday.

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