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Trump travels to Florida for speech to Israeli-American group

WH won’t participate in impeachment hearing

President Trump traveled to Florida for a private fundraiser and to speak at the Israeli-American Council National Summit on Saturday night, following a week of critical developments in the House impeachment inquiry back in Washington. 

The president spent much of his speech touting his administration's support for Israel, particularly in working to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. The Israeli-American Council is a Jewish organization funded by one of Mr. Trump's supporters, billionaire Sheldon Adelson. Mr. Trump was introduced on stage by the Adelsons. During his speech, the president touted his son-in-law's work on peace in the Middle East.

"If Jared Kushner can't do it, it can't be done," the president said.

He also joked that attendees would vote for him even if they don't like him, because they don't want someone like "Pocahontas" — his nickname for Senator Elizabeth Warren — to impose a wealth tax. 

Mr. Trump's trip to Florida, a critical swing state, comes a day after the White House sent a letter to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler saying the president will not participate in upcoming committee impeachment proceedings. The committee is set to hold its second hearing on Monday.

"As you know, your impeachment inquiry is completely baseless and has violated basic principles of due process and fundamental fairness," White House counsel Pat Cipollone said in a letter to Nadler. "Whatever your course, you should choose, as the president has recently stated: 'If you are going to impeach me, do it now, fast, so we can have a fair trial in the Senate, and so that our country can get back to business.'" 

A senior administration official confirmed the letter means the White House will not participate in the proceedings.

Nadler, who informed Mr. Trump of Friday's deadline over the Thanksgiving holiday, expressed disappointment but said "the president's failure [to appear] will not prevent us from carrying out our solemn constitutional duty."

The White House chose not to send any legal representation to the first Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday, where lawmakers heard eight hours of testimony from four constitutional law experts about the constitutional grounds for impeachment. Three of them said the president committed impeachable offenses in his dealings with Ukraine. The fourth scholar, who was a witness called by Republicans, said the Democrats don't have enough evidence to impeach him.

On Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called on Democratic committee chairs to draft articles of impeachment against Mr. Trump.

"Sadly, but with confidence and humility, with allegiance to our founders, and a heart full of love for America, today I am asking our chairmen to proceed with articles of impeachment," Pelosi said.

Given that Democrats control the House, Mr. Trump is likely to be impeached. The vote is expected to occur along party lines since Republicans consider the impeachment inquiry an overreach by Democrats and an attempt to undo the 2016 election results. White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham seemed to suggest she believes the president will be impeached.

"We look forward to a fair trial in the Senate," she said in a statement Thursday.

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