House Judiciary Panel Asks Trump if He Will Present Impeachment Defense

WASHINGTON — The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee asked President Trump on Friday whether he intends to mount a defense during the committee’s consideration of impeachment articles, setting a deadline of next Friday for Mr. Trump and his lawyers to decide if they will present evidence or call witnesses.

In a letter to the president, Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York and the committee chairman, said Mr. Trump has the right to review the evidence against him, ask questions of his accusers during public hearings that begin next week and present evidence and request witness testimony.

“Please provide the committee with notice of whether your counsel intends to participate, specifying which of the privileges your counsel seeks to exercise,” Mr. Nadler wrote. He said the deadline for responding is 5 p.m. on Dec. 6.

Mr. Nadler’s panel will begin examining next week whether Mr. Trump abused the power of his office by pressuring Ukraine for politically beneficial investigations of his political rivals, and whether the president obstructed the congressional inquiry by refusing to provide documents and by blocking witnesses from testifying.

In Friday’s letter, Mr. Nadler said that the committee has also been investigating whether Mr. Trump engaged “in acts of obstruction of justice” detailed in the report by Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel who investigated Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and the Trump campaign. Democrats are weighing whether to draft an obstruction-of-justice article based on Mr. Mueller’s report.

Mr. Nadler’s letter indicates that his committee is prepared to hear a public defense from Mr. Trump or his lawyers as early as the week of Dec. 9, potentially setting up a final vote on articles of impeachment in the committee later that week. Democratic leaders have said the entire House could vote on impeachment the week of Dec. 16.

The White House did not respond to an email seeking comment on Friday, but lawyers for the president have repeatedly expressed deep skepticism about participating in the impeachment inquiry, which the president and his allies have denounced as unfair and a sham.

Mr. Nadler had previously set a deadline of 6 p.m. on Sunday for Mr. Trump to decide whether his lawyers would attend a public hearing on Wednesday in which constitutional scholars will discuss the definition of an impeachable offense and whether Mr. Trump’s actions justify removing him from office.

The president and his lawyers have not responded to the earlier request, according to committee officials.

Under the impeachment resolution adopted by the House in late September, Mr. Trump and his lawyers are allowed to attend all impeachment hearings in the Judiciary Committee, including the presentation of a report from the House Intelligence Committee, which is expected to take place within days.

In 1998, President Bill Clinton’s lawyers delivered a 30-page rebuttal report to the Judiciary Committee as it began consideration of whether to impeach Mr. Clinton for his actions related to a sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky, a White House intern. Mr. Clinton’s lawyers and several witnesses later argued in a daylong appearance before the committee that the president’s actions did not warrant impeachment.

James St. Clair, President Richard Nixon’s White House counsel, argued against Mr. Nixon’s impeachment during Judiciary Committee hearings on Watergate in 1974.

Pat Cipollone, Mr. Trump’s White House counsel, has said for weeks that the president had no intention of cooperating with the House inquiry, saying in a letter to the House Democrats that “President Trump and his administration cannot participate in your partisan and unconstitutional inquiry under these circumstances.”

Mr. Nadler also wrote a letter on Friday to Representative Doug Collins of Georgia, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, asking whether Republicans intend to request any subpoenas to compel witnesses to testify on Mr. Trump’s behalf.

The rules adopted by the House require Mr. Nadler to agree to any Republican subpoena requests. If he rejects the requests, Republicans are allowed to ask for a vote of the full committee, though because it is controlled by Democrats, the committee is unlikely to overrule Mr. Nadler’s decision.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Collins did not respond to a request for a comment. But a Republican aide on the Judiciary Committee said Mr. Collins had not received responses from Mr. Nadler to four recent letters expressing concerns about the way Democrats are running the impeachment inquiry.

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