Monday 21 October 2019

'You're not above law and you will be held accountable' - Pelosi warns Trump

THE CLOSING ACT? US Speaker Nancy Pelosi reacts alongside vice-president Mike Pence as he applauds Donald Trump during his State of the Union address on Capitol Hill last February. Photo: Reuters
THE CLOSING ACT? US Speaker Nancy Pelosi reacts alongside vice-president Mike Pence as he applauds Donald Trump during his State of the Union address on Capitol Hill last February. Photo: Reuters

Eric Beech, Richard Cowan and David Morgan

U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Tuesday President Donald Trump "will be held accountable" after the White House said it would refuse to cooperate with the congressional impeachment inquiry of the Republican president.

"The White House should be warned that continued efforts to hide the truth of the President’s abuse of power from the American people will be regarded as further evidence of obstruction," Pelosi, a Democrat, said in a statement.

"Mr. President, you are not above the law. You will be held accountable," she said.

Ms Pelosi's warning came after the White House insisted in a letter, it would not cooperate in what they've deemed an "illegitimate" impeachment probe.

"Your unprecedented actions have left the president with no choice," lawyer Pat Cipollone said in a letter to Democratic House leaders. "In order to fulfill his duties to the American people, the Constitution, the Executive Branch and all future occupants of the Office of the Presidency, President Trump and his administration cannot participate in your partisan and unconstitutional inquiry under these circumstances."

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Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (AP)
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (AP)

The letter came shortly after the Trump administration on Tuesday abruptly blocked a key witness in the Ukraine scandal from appearing before a congressional impeachment inquiry.

The U.S. State Department said the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, a Trump political donor, would not be allowed to appear, even though he had already flown from Europe to do so. Trump decried the Democratic-led inquiry into whether he abused his office in the pursuit of personal political gain as a "kangaroo court."

Democratic lawmakers denounced the move, calling it an attempt to obstruct their inquiry and said they would subpoena Sondland, to compel him to submit to questions. The State Department did not respond to requests for comment on why Sondland had been blocked from speaking to lawmakers just hours before his scheduled appearance.

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The move was the White House's most aggressive response yet to the inquiry, which has cast a pall over Trump's campaign to win back the White House in 2020. A whistleblower complaint about a July 25 phone call in which Trump pressed his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, to investigate his political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, prompted the inquiry.

The investigation could lead to the approval of articles of impeachment - or formal charges - against Trump in the House of Representatives. A trial on whether to remove him from office would then be held in the U.S. Senate. Republicans who control the Senate have shown little appetite for ousting Trump.

US President Donald Trump. Photo by Andrew CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP
US President Donald Trump. Photo by Andrew CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP

Reuters

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