U.S. President Donald Trump faced two deadlines in Congress this week as Democrats prepared to shift the focus of their impeachment inquiry from fact-finding to the consideration of possible charges of misconduct over his dealings with Ukraine.
The Democratic-led House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, tasked with considering charges known as articles of impeachment, has given Trump until 6 p.m. (2300 GMT) on Sunday to say whether he or his legal counsel will participate in an impeachment hearing on Wednesday.
The first-in-a-series of expected Judiciary proceedings will hear testimony on the impeachment process established under the U.S. Constitution from a panel of legal experts that has yet to be named.
Hearings before the committee, which has responsibility for crafting any formal charges against Trump, are a major step toward possible charges. Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who will make the final decision, has not yet said whether the Republican president should be impeached. But in a letter to supporters last week, she called for him to be held accountable for his actions.
Trump has denied any wrongdoing, calling the impeachment inquiry a “witch hunt.” The White House has not yet indicated whether it will take part in the committee proceedings.
Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler also set a 5 p.m. (2200 GMT) Friday deadline for Trump to say whether he will mount a defence at further proceedings expected next week to examine evidence against him.
Three investigating panels, led by the House Intelligence Committee, are due to release a formal report this week when lawmakers return on Tuesday from a Thanksgiving recess. The report will outline evidence gathered by the Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees.
Members of the intelligence panel will review the report in a classified setting on Monday evening, and the full committee will consider and vote on it on Tuesday before forwarding it to the Judiciary Committee, according to an Intelligence Committee official and a person familiar with the matter.