U.S. panel sets deadline for Trump to decide participation in impeachment hearings

The Ukraine report is expected to make up the core of Democrats' likely articles of impeachment against Trump. If the process moves on to a vote by the full House of Representatives, he could ultimately find himself only the third US president ever to be impeached.

At incendiary campaign-style rallies across the country, Trump has repeatedly railed against the impeachment proceedings as a sham, a hoax and a witch hunt. A typical scenario unfolded at a rally last week in Sunrise, Fla., when he basked in crowd chants of an expletive he used to characterize the House probe, and accused "radical Democrats" of trying to overturn the last election.

The House Judiciary Committee's hearings are slated to begin on Wednesday.

The president and his Republican allies in Congress say the inquiry has been unfair, because it did not allow the White House to have legal counsel present or call witnesses during weeks of closed-door testimony and open hearings before the House Intelligence Committee.

House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler has also set a 5 p.m. EST (2200 GMT) deadline on Friday for Trump to say whether he intends to mount a defense at further proceedings expected next week that would examine the evidence against him.

"What would I offer in terms of testimony?" he said when asked about it on CNN's "State Of The Union" last week. The report will outline evidence gathered by the Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees. "We're certainly anxious to hear his explanation of that".

Trump and his attorneys should participate in the process, Democratic Representative Val Demings of Florida, a member of the Judiciary and Intelligence panels, said on ABC's "This Week".

United Kingdom police say they will not launch criminal probe into Epstein allegation
Meanwhile, Her Majesty is reportedly seriously considering stepping down from her royal duties when she turns 95 in two years. Epstein was being held on sex trafficking charges at a federal prison in Manhattan when he killed himself August 9.

"The fact that the president got caught in the act does not relieve him of being held accountable", she said.

While the White House has yet to signal whether attorneys for the president will be present during the panel's proceedings, the president himself will be outside of London attending a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit as Wednesday's Judiciary Committee unfolds in Washington.

Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff had indicated in a letter to colleagues earlier this week that a report would be coming "soon" from his committee but had not provided a specific timeframe. Reaching that tally would require 20 Republicans to side with Democrats and vote to remove Trump from office.

Schiff added that a "dozen witnesses have defied lawmakers' subpoenas in what Schiff alleged was "an unprecedented campaign of obstruction". He said Schiff himself should be called to testify before the panel.

"The first person that needs to testify is Adam Schiff", Collins said Sunday. Senate Republicans have shown little appetite for removing Trump.

A transcript of a July call between Trump and Ukraine's recently elected president Volodymyr Zelensky - released in September by the White House - is the centerpiece of their evidence.

Former Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., who served during the impeachment of President Bill Clinton, suggested Sunday that a compromise between House Democrats and President Trump could be a satisfactory solution to avoid the "political food fight" of impeachment, but said realistically he doubts it will become a reality.

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