Takeaways from House report on Trump impeachment inquiry
WASHINGTON, DC – The House Intelligence Committee released a sweeping impeachment report Tuesday that asserts President Donald Trump misused his office to pressure Ukraine into opening investigations that he believed would help his reelection bid.
The report also makes the case that Trump obstructed Congress by stonewalling the committee's requests for testimony and documents.
The House Intelligence Committee's report is the culmination of a two-month investigation into Trump's handling of Ukraine, including a July 25 phone call with the country's new president and the decision to withhold military assistance from the country.
Here's a look at some of the key points from the 300-page report:
The report states that lawmakers uncovered “significant misconduct” by the president toward Ukraine that broadly placed his own personal interests above those of the nation.
It asserts that the president “subverted" national security by withholding critical military aid to Ukraine, removing an anti-corruption “champion” from her post as ambassador, and by using “hand-picked” agents to pressure the new Ukrainian president to investigate Democrats, including Joe Biden and his son.
Trump conditioned White House meetings on the investigations, and asked Ukraine's president to do him a favor during the July 25 conversation.
Rep. Adam Schiff, the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, called the push on Ukraine the “act of a president unbound," with Trump “determined to use his vast official powers to secure his reelection."
Republicans in a rebuttal to the report said Democrats have no evidence of impeachable offenses by Trump, only proof that he “holds a deepseated, genuine, and reasonable skepticism of Ukraine."
NO OTHER PRESIDENT
The Democratic report describes a concerted and unprecedented effort by Trump and his lawyers to obstruct the House investigation, and to encourage others to do so as well.
The White House told witnesses not to testify and executive branch agencies not to provide any records. Deadlines were missed, subpoenas ignored and combative tweets about “a COUP” greeted Congress in place of conciliatory niceties.
The orders were followed to varying degrees. Not a single document was produced by the White House or government agencies despite 71 demands or requests for documents, the report says. And many administration officials who refused to testify cited the White House directives, though several “courageous individuals” came forward to “tell the truth,” according to the report.
Pointedly, the report asserts, Trump’s obstruction went far beyond anything attempted by President Richard Nixon, who agreed to let his staff testify voluntarily in the Watergate investigation, or President Bill Clinton, who provided written responses to 81 interrogatories.
U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes of California, the ranking Republican on the Intelligence Committee, makes a surprise appearance in the report thanks to call records the Democrats obtained from AT&T and Verizon.
Those records show Nunes had a series of calls with Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, as well as with Giuliani's now-indicted associate Lev Parnas. One conversation with Parnas on April 12 lasted eight minutes, according to logs contained in the report.
Giuliani also had multiple connections with a National Security Council official who formerly served on Nunes' staff. The connection between some of the players in the investigation prompted questions about whether Nunes — a fervent Trump supporter who lambasted the hearings as a circus sideshow — should have recused himself.
Schiff, also of California, said he was going to reserve comment Tuesday. He said their investigation is focused on the president's conduct. “The allegations are concerning,” he said, but it may be up to others to investigate. A spokesman for Nunes did not respond to a request for comment.
THE INVESTIGATION CONTINUES
As the Intelligence Committee hands over the report to Judiciary, Schiff made clear that his panel's work is far from finished. He said in a preface to the report that “there remain unanswered questions, and our investigation must continue.”
Democrats have said they are moving quickly because they believe the evidence is overwhelming and they are concerned about further misconduct by Trump. But they have been under some pressure from the left and from some liberal lawmakers to keep digging before a final impeachment vote.
Schiff said Tuesday that his panel is still looking into some related matters, including whether an effort to influence Ukraine started earlier than first understood. He has said the committee may still call witnesses and could send addendums to the report.
THE THREE AMIGOS (AND RUDY)
The report dedicates a section to a trio of government officials who called themselves the “three amigos:" Energy Secretary Rick Perry, U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland and former special envoy Kurt Volker. The men, along with Giuliani, were put in charge of Ukraine policy by Trump.
But that didn't mean the president listened to their assessment of the country. In May, the three told Trump that the new president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, was “committed to doing the right things," including fighting corruption. Trump reacted negatively, according to the report.
He said the country was “a terrible place, all corrupt, terrible people.” His words echoed Giuliani's, and the amigos “saw the writing on the wall,” according to Sondland's testimony, realizing they needed to work with Giuliani on Ukraine or nothing would happen.
Volker and Sondland both testified publicly and said they were dismayed they had to work with Trump's personal attorney on diplomacy. But that was the way it was, they argued, so they followed orders.
Associated Press Writer Mary Clare Jalonick contributed to this report
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