The House Democrats, prosecuting the lower chamber's impeachment efforts against President Donald Trump, kicked off the day Tuesday by taking aim at the White House's lead defense attorney in the case, suggesting that he shouldn't take part in the trial.
In a letter to White House Counsel Pat Cipollone dated Tuesday, the House's team of impeachment managers — which is led by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) — wrote to "notify you that evidence received by the House of Representatives during its impeachment inquiry indicates that you are a material witness to charges in both Articles of Impeachment for which President Trump now faces trial."
The letter went on to describe instances that supposedly make Cipollone a witness to the events underlying the articles of impeachment. With regard to the article of impeachment for abuse of power, for example, the letter cited "multiple witnesses" who told the House that they "raised concerns" with a White House attorney who reports to Cipollone. Regarding the article of impeachment for obstruction of Congress, the managers claimed that Cipollone's office was "directly involved in potential efforts to conceal President Trump's scheme from Congress and the public."
The managers added that Cipollone's knowledge of such events brings into question his ability to act as the president's legal representative in this case.
"In light of your extensive knowledge of these key events, your personal representation of President Trump threatens to undermine the integrity of the pending trial," the letter contended. "You may be a material witness to the charges against President Trump even though you are also his advocate."
The managers' letter concluded by telling Cipollone that "at a minimum, you must disclose all facts and information as to which you have first-hand knowledge that will be at issue in connection with evidence you present or arguments you make in your role as the President's legal advocate so that the Senate and Chief Justice can be apprised of any potential ethical issues, conflicts, or biases."
In a fiery statement following the release of the letter, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) fired back at the managers' "absurd request" and said that the upper chamber wouldn't deny the president Cipollone's legal counsel.
"Unlike the House, the Senate will have a FAIR trial," Cruz said. "That means we won't deny the President his lawyer ON THE DAY the trial starts."
The senator suggested that Schiff should be disqualified from trying the case instead.
"Under the standard put forth by the House Democrats today — that any potential fact witness cannot serve as counsel in the impeachment hearing — there is an obvious person who should be disqualified: Adam Schiff," Cruz said. "Schiff, it has been alleged, spoke directly with the so-called 'whistle-blower' and may even have helped him draft the complaint that launched this entire impeachment. So, maybe we should disqualify Schiff as a lawyer, and schedule him instead as a witness to explain his role in creating the 'evidence' in this proceeding?"
Inbox: @SenTedCruz responds to some dems' calls for WH counsel Pat Cipollone to not take part in the trial: "Unlike… https://t.co/rQRylbr3di— Nate Madden (@Nate Madden)1579628996.0