House Intelligence Committee Releases Impeachment Inquiry Report
The House Intelligence Committee has released its report resulting from its investigation of the Ukraine scandal.
Just a day ahead of the opening hearings in the House Judiciary Committee’s start to its side of the impeachment inquiry, the House Intelligence Committee released its report resulting from its investigation into the Ukraine scandal, including the information it learned from closed-door depositions, public hearings, and other parts of the investigation that were going on largely out of public view:
House Democrats accused President Trump on Tuesday of systematically abusing the powers of his office by pressuring Ukraine to launch politically motivated investigations, as their inquiry shifts to a new phase that will almost certainly lead to a vote this month on whether to impeach the president.
A blistering, 300-page report produced by the Democratic-led House Intelligence Committee concluded that Trump had “compromised national security to advance his personal political interests” and then engaged in an “unprecedented campaign” to prevent Congress from uncovering the truth.
“The President’s actions have damaged our national security, undermined the integrity of the next election, and violated his oath of office,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot L. Engel (D-N.Y.), whose panels have overseen the inquiry, said in a statement. “They have also challenged the very core of our constitutional system of checks and balances, separation of powers, and rule of law.”
While the report does not outline the specific articles of impeachment the president could face in the House, it signals that Democrats are at least preparing to accuse of him of obstructing Congress, finding that a dozen witnesses “followed President Trump’s orders, defying voluntary requests and lawful subpoenas, and refusing to testify.”
The House Judiciary Committee is charged with drafting the articles and will hold its first impeachment hearing Wednesday, with constitutional scholars set to testify. The rapid timeline puts the House on pace to impeach Trump by Christmas. The fight will then move to the Senate, where the White House and its allies believe that the president will be acquitted by the Republican-controlled chamber.
At the heart of Democrats’ case is their allegation that Trump tried to leverage a White House meeting and military aid, sought by Ukraine in the face of Russian military aggression, to pressure President Volodymyr Zelensky to launch investigations of former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter, as well as an unfounded theory that Kyiv conspired with Democrats to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.
Trump has repeatedly said he did nothing wrong and has derided the impeachment inquiry as a “hoax” and a “witch hunt.”
“I think it’s a disgrace. I think the Democrats should be ashamed of themselves,” Trump said during a bilateral meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in London, where he is attending a NATO meeting. “If you look at impeachment, the word ‘impeachment,’ here there was nothing wrong, nothing done wrong.”
Democrats’ findings are primarily drawn from the testimony of witnesses who appeared before the Intelligence Committee last month, as well as the rough transcript of a July 25 phone call between Trump and Zelensky released by the White House, in which Trump asks the Ukrainian leader to “do us a favor though” with regard to the investigations.
But the report also includes records showing that Trump’s personal attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani, who orchestrated the pressure campaign against Ukraine, made phone calls to the White House and its budget office during key moments of the investigation.
The records show he called the White House repeatedly on April 24, the day then-U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch was summoned to Washington and removed from her post in Kyiv. Giuliani publicly alleged that she was anti-Trump, although Yovanovitch’s colleagues, including senior State Department officials, have defended her as an exemplary public servant.
Giuliani called the White House at least seven times on April 24 between 7:47 a.m. and 8:09 p.m. He also received a call from a White House number and spent more than eight minutes speaking to someone identified only as “-1” in the report.
The records do not provide any details about the nature of the calls or whether Giuliani spoke with Trump. On Twitter and in television appearances that day, Giuliani promoted the debunked theory, embraced by the president, about alleged Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election.
In a news conference Tuesday, Schiff declined to say how his committee obtained the phone records but said they showed “considerable coordination” among key figures, including the White House, in the campaign to oust Yovanovitch.
The report also details calls Guiliani made in August to people whose phone numbers are associated with the White House Office of Management and Budget, at a time when an Oval Office meeting for Zelensky was being sought and Trump had placed a hold on the military aid for Ukraine.
And the report reveals new contacts between the Intelligence Committee’s ranking Republican, Rep. Devin Nunes (Calif.), and Giuliani, as well as other newly disclosed phone records that suggest Giuliani may have talked to Trump and Fox News host Sean Hannity on April 25, the same day Joe Biden declared his presidential bid.
The White House, which does not plan to participate in Wednesday’s hearing, continued its scathing criticism of how the Democrats have conducted their inquiry in its response to the report.
“At the end of a one-sided sham process, Chairman Schiff and the Democrats utterly failed to produce any evidence of wrongdoing by President Trump,” White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said. “This report reflects nothing more than their frustrations. Chairman Schiff’s report reads like the ramblings of a basement blogger straining to prove something when there is evidence of nothing.”
In London, Trump said he would like top officials who have so far refused to cooperate in the House impeachment inquiry — such as acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo — to testify, but only in the Senate, where he believes he will get a fair trial.
WASHINGTON — House Democrats on Tuesday asserted that President Trump abused his power by pressuring Ukraine to help him in the 2020 presidential election, releasing an impeachment report that found the president “placed his own personal and political interests above the national interests of the United States.”
The report by the House Intelligence Committee was a sweeping indictment of the president’s behavior, concluding that he sought to undermine American democracy and endangered national security, then worked to conceal his actions from Congress. Democrats left it to another committee to decide whether to recommend Mr. Trump’s impeachment, but their report presented what are all but certain to be the grounds on which the House votes to formally charge him.
“The founding fathers prescribed a remedy for a chief executive who places his personal interests above those of the country: impeachment,” it said.
The intelligence panel adopted it, strictly along partisan lines, hours after its release.
Though the committee indicated it would continue investigative work, the report’s release set in motion the next phase in the impeachment of Mr. Trump, accelerating a constitutional clash that has happened only three times in the nation’s history. Both parties are poised for a raucous debate in the House Judiciary Committee over whether to charge the president with high crimes and misdemeanors, the Constitution’s threshold for removal, and a likely partisan vote by the House to do so before Christmas.
The 300-page report provided some new details of Rudolph W. Giuliani’s frequent calls to the White House. But for the most part, it described the account that emerged over more than two months of sworn testimony from diplomats and other administration officials of how the president and his allies pressured Ukraine to announce investigations of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and other Democrats, while withholding nearly $400 million in military assistance and a White House meeting for Ukraine’s president.
“The impeachment inquiry into Donald J. Trump, the 45th president of the United States, uncovered a monthslong effort by President Trump to use the powers of his office to solicit foreign interference on his behalf in the 2020 election,” the report said.
It asserted that Mr. Trump’s “scheme subverted U.S. foreign policy toward Ukraine and undermined our national security in favor of two politically motivated investigations that would help his presidential re-election campaign.”
And it detailed how officials at the highest levels of his administration — including Vice President Mike Pence; Secretary of State Mike Pompeo; Rick Perry, the energy secretary; and Mick Mulvaney, the acting chief of staff — either knew of the president’s efforts or were deeply involved in carrying them out.
Making a case for urgent congressional action, Democrats tried to place Mr. Trump’s conduct in a broader context of wrongdoing that they said dated to the 2016 presidential campaign. Mr. Trump, they argued, first accepted help from one foreign power, Russia, to win the presidency, and then turned around and tried to enlist another, Ukraine, to bolster his 2020 re-election campaign.
“We do not intend to delay when the integrity of the next election is still at risk,” Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, said after the report’s release.
The report itself, which I’ve embedded below along wih the minority report produced by the Intelligence Committee’s Republican minority, runs at over 300 pages (the minority report is another 130 pages). However, there is also a much shorter executive summary that contains the major conclusions of the report without all of the detail. Those conclusions should be familiar to anyone who has been following the unfolding scandal from the beginning and how has paid sufficient attention to the public testimony that has taken place and the private depositions that have taken place.
Specifically, the report concludes that the Trump Administration sought to subvert U.S. foreign policy toward Ukraine for the specific purpose of hoping to obtain damaging information about political opponents in an effort to aid the President’s re-election campaign. Specifically, that included using military aid and improvement in the relationship between Washington and Kyiv to influence the government of the newly-elected Ukrainian President to investigate Joe and Hunter Biden and chase down evidence regarding the widely discredited conspiracy theories about the efforts of President Zelensky’s predecessor to interfere in the 2016 election on behalf of the President.
The report also makes clear the extent to which dominion over U.S. policy toward Ukraine was placed in the hands of Rudy Giuliani, who has spent the better part of a year traveling between the United States and Ukraine allegedly chasing down “evidence” on both of the aforementioned alleged scandals. In that regard, the report does reveal heretofore unknown information showing the extent of Giuliani’s involvement in the scandal and the efforts to get Ukraine to act in exchange for aid from the United States as well as other benefits such as a White House visit for President Zelensky.
This involvement is perhaps best demonstrated by phone records showing a huge number of phone calls to and from Giuliani and an unidentified person in the White House who may or may not be the President. Additionally, these same records show a significant number of calls between Giuliani and an undisclosed phone number at the White House’s Office of Management and Budget which, of course, was the office that issued the initial hold on military aid allocated for Ukraine by Congress. The report also indicates that Giuliani’s indicted associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman. These same records also show a significant amount of contact between Congressman Devin Nunes, the Ranking Member and former Chairman of the Intelligence Committee, and those same Giuliani associates. All of this further strengthens the argument that the President was essentially running a shadow foreign policy in Ukraine with his private attorney at the head and to use that policy to his political advantage back home.
Based on all of this, the Intelligence Committee’s report argues that there is sufficient evidence to proceed forward with consideration of articles of impeachment based on the President’s abuse of power and the fact that his actions appear to be in clear violation of federal laws against bribery and solicitation of campaign assistance from foreigners. The minority report by the Intelligence Committee’s Republicans is basically what you’d expect, arguing both that the evidence uncovered in the Committee’s investigation does not amount to the level of impeachable offenses and again seeking to repeat what has been confirmed to be Kremlin propaganda regarding the debunked conspiracy theory regarding Ukraine and the 2016 election. For anyone who watched the hearings last month, the contents of this report were also entirely predictable.
The next step in this process begins this morning with the first public impeachment hearing by the House Judiciary Committee. It’s unclear how extentsive those hearings will be, but eventually the committee will move on to drafting and voting on Articles of Impeachment, which will then be sent to the House for a formal vote. All of this is supposed to be done by the end of the year, but whether or not that’s possible at this point is unclear.
In any event, here is the full report approved by the Intelligence Committee:
And here’s the 123 page minority report: