2019-12-04 18:09:241 Oct 2018 01:53 AM EST
While the impeachment inquiry report that was released by the House Intelligence Committee didn't produce many stunning new facts, it's still pretty significant in that it's an official report of not just what Donald Trump is being accused of but what the panel feels assured they can convict him of, that he tried to "use the powers of his office to solicit foreign interference on his behalf in the 2020 election."
After a whistleblower filed a complaint of Trump's July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and the resulting coverup, three House committees began the impeachment inquiry, following up on the report that the president asked Ukraine to do him a "favor" and investigate 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter, as well as the 2016 election, in exchange for a White House visit and military aid.
The resulting 300-page impeachment report of the private and public testimony of Trump administration officials, aides, and diplomats found that the president "placed his own personal and political interests above the national interests of the United States."
The report concludes that Trump's actions were an effort to undermine American democracy and that it also endangered national security. However, the Intelligence panel is leaving it up to the Judiciary panel to ultimately decide whether articles of impeachment should be filed.
"The founding fathers prescribed a remedy for a chief executive who places his personal interests above those of the country: impeachment," read the report that was released on Tuesday ahead of a vote to formally approve it.
It explained that the impeachment inquiry "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 claims that the president'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 reelection campaign."
Also described in the report is the "unprecedented campaign of obstruction of this impeachment inquiry" by Trump after he refused to release documents from the State Department, the Defense Department, and the White House budget office, or to allow witnesses to cooperate.
"The damage to our system of checks and balances and to the balance of power within our three branches of government will be long-lasting and potentially irrevocable if the president's ability to stonewall Congress goes unchecked," reasoned the report.
"Any future president will feel empowered to resist an investigation into their own wrongdoing, malfeasance, or corruption, and the result will be a nation at far greater risk of all three."
One interesting item in the report that was not previously reported is that the evidence includes call records from AT&T and Verizon that show multiple calls between Rudy Giuliani, Trump's personal attorney, and the president's associates and allies from high levels of government.
One group of calls dealt with the successful campaign Giuliani was leading to get the ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, removed from her position as well as pushing the investigations of the Bidens and the 2016 election. He spoke with associate Lev Parnas who has been charged with campaign finance violations; Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), the top Republican on the Intelligence Committee who has been accused of being in Ukraine a year ago to follow up on the conspiracy theories; and a former aid of his, Kash Patel, who works on the National Security Council.
The first part of the report explains that the scheme was "as simple as it was inimical to our national security and election integrity: the president was withholding officials acts while soliciting something of value to his reelection campaign — an investigation into his political rival."
Through witness testimony laying out "overwhelming evidence of his misconduct," Trump is accused of pushing Yovanovitch from her position and putting Giuliani and others in charge of the shadow Ukraine policy.
The report also details the accusation of Trump illegally trying to obstruct the congressional inquiry, claiming he ignored the Constitution and that it was more flagrant than what Richard Nixon did when he tried to harm the Watergate investigation. Added to this is Trump's refusal to cooperate in the investigation or comply with document demands. Not allowing aides to appear was a violation of the law. On top of all that, he engaged in "a brazen effort to publicly attack and intimidate" witnesses who did agree to cooperate.
House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff (D-CA) used his panel's report to show the disparity between the two parties, warning that it shows the very thing that concerned the authors of the Constitution.
"Today we may be witnessing a collision between the power of a remedy meant to curb presidential misconduct and the power of faction determined to defend against the use of that remedy on a president of the same party," wrote the chairman.
"But perhaps even more corrosive to our democratic system of governance, the president and his allies are making a comprehensive attack on the very idea of fact and truth," he concluded, asking, "How can a democracy survive without acceptance of a common set of experiences?"
From London, while traveling with Trump for the NATO leaders meeting, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham called the report the conclusion of a "one-sided sham process led by Schiff."
"Chairman Schiff and the Democrats utterly failed to produce any evidence of wrongdoing by President Trump," Grisham said in a statement. "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."
The Intelligence Committee formally voted Tuesday evening to approve the report and send the raw evidence collected to the Judiciary Committee. Along with this report, the Judiciary Committee will also consider evidence presented by other committees as well as former special counsel Robert Mueller who investigated the Russia investigation and charges that Trump obstructed justice.
If the House majority votes to approve articles of impeachment drafted by the Judiciary Committee, Trump will be impeached. It will then move to the Senate, with a two-thirds majority needed to convict to remove him from office.
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