The president, first lady and their son returned from their Thanksgiving holiday in Florida to a widely anticipated political storm in the nation’s capitol on Dec. 1.
Donald Trump, wife Melania, and youngest son Barron disembarked Air Force One after arriving at the Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, 15 miles southeast of Washington.
The trio had spent a weekend of golf and family time at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Resort on Palm Beach. The president also made a 36 hour surprise air trip to serve Thanksgiving meals to U.S. military personnel who are stationed in Afghanistan.
Trump is returning to the White House at a critical time. The House Democrat-led impeachment report will be privately released on December 2 for key lawmakers to review and decide whether there is enough credible evidence to draft any articles of impeachment against the president.
The Democrats are pressing ahead with the investigation even though the White House will not participate in the first Judiciary Committee hearing. Trump had previously indicated he would be very pleased if more reliable witnesses testified at the hearings including the secretary of state, secretary of energy, and office of management and budget director.
“I would love to have Mike Pompeo, Rick Perry, Mick Mulvaney and many others testify about the phony impeachment hoax,” the president said on Twitter. “It is a Democrat scam that is going nowhere but, future presidents should in no way be compromised. What has happened to me should never happen to another president.”
However, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) did not appear to be interested in inviting Pompeo, Perry, and Mulvaney to testify at the public hearings even after reading the president’s remarks. Schiff, who led most of the investigation, dismissed Trump’s remarks on social media as an admission of guilt.
“There’s only one thing less plausible than the claim Trump was actually concerned with corruption in Ukraine, as opposed to getting dirt on the Bidens,” Schiff said on Twitter. “That he’s more concerned about future presidents than he is about concealing evidence of his own misconduct. No one buys it.”
White House Counsel Pat Cipollone previously declined to testify and called the investigation a “baseless and highly partisan inquiry.” He also declined an invitation for the president’s counsel to appear before the panel in a letter addressed to Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.).
“[The proceeding] violates all past historical precedent, basic due process rights, and fundamental fairness,” Cipollone said according to the Associated Press.
Republicans have demanded that Schiff also testifies before the Judiciary Committee but they have no power to compel him to do so.
“It’s easy to hide behind a report,” Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga) said. “But it’s going to be another thing to actually get up and have to answer questions.”
However, Schiff refused to testify because there was “nothing for me to testify about” and admitted he was not a “fact” witness.