US President Donald Trump faces two deadlines in Congress on Sunday as Democrats prepare to shift the focus of the accountability investigation away from fact-finding into considering possible accusations of misconduct over his dealings with Ukraine.
The House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, led by the Democrats charged with examining the charges known as accountability materials, gave the president until 6 pm (2300 GMT) Sunday to decide whether to attend Wednesday’s hearing or his legal adviser.
The hearing will be the first in the committee’s expected proceedings, and will hear testimony about the accountability process as stipulated in the US Constitution by a panel of legal experts whose identities have yet to be disclosed.
Holding hearings before the committee responsible for drafting any formal accusations Trump may make is an important step toward possible indictments. Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives, has yet to say whether the Republican president should be formally held accountable. But in a speech to supporters last week, she called for the president to be held accountable for what he did.
Trump denied any wrongdoing and called the accountability investigation a campaign of persecution aimed at isolating a democratically elected president. The White House has yet to say whether it will participate in the House Judiciary Committee proceedings.
Jerrold Nadler, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, also set a deadline of 5 pm (2200 GMT) on Friday to tell Trump whether he would step up the defense in expected proceedings next week to examine the evidence.
Three investigative committees led by the House Intelligence Committee are due to issue a formal report of evidence this week after lawmakers return to Congress on Tuesday from the Thanksgiving holiday.
The report will identify evidence gathered by lawmakers from committee members as well as from the Foreign Affairs Committee and the Oversight Committee.
Read also: Trump tries political rhythm on Navy’s drum