Pelosi tells Trump he'll be held accountable despite White House letter: "You are not above the law"

White House counsel Cipollone's 8-page letter said the administration wouldn't participate in impeachment inquiry

By Joseph Neese

Deputy Editor in Chief

Published October 9, 2019 12:08PM (EDT)

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., warned President Donald Trump that he was "not above the law" and would "be held accountable" hours after the White House said it would not participate in Congress' impeachment inquiry.

“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," the House speaker said Wednesday as she accused the president of a cover-up.

Pelosi issued her pointed statement after she received an eight-page letter from White House counsel Pat Cipollone accusing her and the three chairmen of the House Foreign Affairs, Intelligence and Oversight Committees, who are leading the inquiry for House Democrats, of mounting a "highly partisan and unconstitutional effort" to undermine the Constitution.

“Never before in our history has the House of Representatives — under the control of either political party — taken the American people down the dangerous path you seemed determined to pursue," the White House counsel wrote. "Put simply, you seek to overturn the results of the 2016 election and deprive the American people of the president they have freely chosen.”

“Given that your inquiry lacks any legitimate constitutional foundation, any pretense of fairness or even the most elementary due process protections," Cipollone continued, "the executive branch cannot be expected to participate in it."

Pelosi rejected the letter as nothing more than an attempt to "normalize lawlessness" and further hide the president's "betrayal of our democracy."

“This letter is manifestly wrong, and is simply another unlawful attempt to hide the facts of the Trump administration’s brazen efforts to pressure foreign powers to intervene in the 2020 elections," the House speaker said. "Despite the White House’s stonewalling, we see a growing body of evidence that shows that President Trump abused his office and violated his oath to ‘protect, preserve and defend the Constitution.’"

The current standoff between the executive and legislative branches suggests a looming court battle ahead.

"The question before us now is whether the courts will back this imperial view of the presidency, and if they don't, whether or not Trump will adhere to their rulings. The White House has more or less respected judicial actions up until now," Heather Digby Parton wrote Wednesday in her commentary for Salon. "But that was before this declaration of 'war' — a war Trump and his henchmen are clearly determined to win by any means necessary."

By Joseph Neese

Joseph Neese is Salon's Deputy Editor in Chief. You can follow him on Twitter: @josephneese.

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