President Trump and his allies are blasting House Democrats for holding the first Judiciary Committee hearing on impeachment at the same time the president will be in London meeting with other NATO members.
Administration officials have accused Democrats of deliberately attempting to distract Trump from his work overseas by hosting a hearing on Wednesday with constitutional law experts on impeachable offenses.
“The do nothing Democrats decided when I’m going to NATO … that was the exact time — this is one of the most important journeys that we make as president,” Trump told reporters at the White House as he departed for London on Monday.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, meanwhile, told “Fox & Friends” that he felt the decision to hold a hearing while Trump is abroad went against precedent.
“I regret that they’ve chosen to hold these hearings at the same time that the president and our entire national security team will be traveling to Europe to London to work on these matters,” Pompeo said. “It’s very unfortunate.”
White House counsel Pat Cipollone also accused Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) of purposely scheduling the hearing at the same time as Trump’s NATO meetings. In a letter to Nadler late Sunday, Cipollone said the White House will not send a representative to participate in the panel’s first hearing, but did not rule out taking part in future hearings.
The House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on Wednesday titled “The Impeachment Inquiry into President Donald J. Trump: Constitutional Grounds for Presidential Impeachment.”
The panel will hear from legal scholars as Democrats weigh whether the evidence turned up in their weeks-long impeachment inquiry warrants the drafting of articles aimed at removing the president from office.
Democrats are looking into whether Trump abused his office by pressuring a foreign government to investigate a domestic political rival.
Trump has in the past blamed hearings focused on his conduct for breakdowns in foreign policy.
The House Oversight and Reform Committee in February heard testimony from Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen while the president was in Vietnam holding denuclearization talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Cohen gave explosive testimony claiming the president was aware of hush money payments to women who claimed to have had an affair with him and called Trump a “con man.”
Trump later blamed the focus on that hearing for an inability to reach a deal with North Korea, calling it “perhaps a new low in American politics.”