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House Judiciary Chair Gives Trump an Ultimatum as New Impeachment Hearing Is Announced

Mark Wilson/Getty Images // Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

A letter from the House Judiciary Committee released on Tuesday, the next chapter of the impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump will begin on December 4 with a new hearing just announced.

Until now, the public impeachment hearings have been conducted by members of the House Intelligence Committee, led by Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA). The December 4 hearing, however, will be conducted by the House Judiciary Committee, headed by Chairman Jerrold Nadler.


While the Intelligence Committee heard from fact witnesses within Trump's administration, the Judiciary Committee will question legal experts to determine whether or not the facts gleaned from the Intelligence Committee merit bringing Articles of Impeachment to the House floor for a vote.

The Judiciary Committee has also invited Trump and his Counsel to question the legal experts it will hear from on December 4, snuffing one of the chief complaints from Trump and his allies that the President's counsel wasn't invited to question fact witnesses. In reality, the precedent is that the Commander in Chief's counsel doesn't participate until the Judiciary Committee stage of the inquiry.

Read the letter here.

After the hearing's announcement, Chairman Nadler gave Trump an ultimatum: send your counsel to participate or relinquish the right to complain about the process.

Nadler said in a statement:

"At base, the President has a choice to make: he can take this opportunity to be represented in the impeachment hearings, or he can stop complaining about the process. I hope that he chooses to participate in the inquiry, directly or through counsel, as other Presidents have done before him."

For their first defense, back in September, Republicans falsely claimed that the impeachment inquiry announced by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was illegitimate, because she didn't hold a floor vote to initiate it. Once the inquiry passed a floor vote, Republicans claimed that the Intelligence Committee's bipartisan closed door hearings were corrupt, calling instead for public hearings. When the Intelligence Committee began conducting public hearings, Republicans called them a "sham" and a "circus."

So it's unlikely that Trump, or any Republican, will stop attempts to discredit the process—especially since public impeachment hearings only corroborated Trump's efforts to withhold aid from Ukraine in exchange for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announcing an investigation into the President's political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden.

This time, people won't be surprised when the goalposts move again.

Then again, some of his loyalists are already moving those goalposts for him.

We'll see in December whether or not the wider public has more faith in constitutional oversight than supporters of the man who repeatedly flouts it.