Democrats on Tuesday publicly released a new report accusing President Donald Trump of soliciting Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 election for his benefit and obstructing the impeachment inquiry in the House of Representatives.
The 300-page report alleges a quid pro quo scheme in which Trump "conditioned official acts on a public announcement by the new Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky, of politically-motivated investigations" into former Vice President Joe Biden — a top Democratic presidential candidate — and his son Hunter.
"In pressuring President Zelensky to carry out his demand, President Trump withheld a White House meeting desperately sought by the Ukrainian President, and critical U.S. military assistance to fight Russian aggression in eastern Ukraine," the report says.
The report, written by the Democratic members of the House Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees, came on the eve of the next phase of the impeachment probe, where the House Judiciary Committee is expected to draft formal articles of impeachment against Trump.
The Democrat-led Intelligence panel plans to vote Tuesday night to formally issue the report, which was technically in draft form at the time of its initial release.
The report is the most substantial document to date laying out the president's alleged scheme at the center of the impeachment inquiry. But it arrives a day after a dueling report released by House Republicans, who assert that Democrats are merely attempting to tank Trump's re-election chances and "undo the will of the American people."
In a statement, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said that Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., and other Democrats "utterly failed to produce any evidence of wrongdoing by President Trump. 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," Grisham said.
The impeachment probe began in earnest in September on the heels of reporting on a bombshell whistleblower complaint that raised alarms about a July 25 phone call between Trump and Zelenskiy.
But that call "was neither the start nor the end of President Trump's efforts to bend U.S. foreign policy for his personal gain," Schiff wrote in the preface of the report.
"Rather, it was a dramatic crescendo within a months-long campaign driven by President Trump in which senior U.S. officials, including the vice president, the secretary of state, the acting chief of staff, the secretary of energy, and others were either knowledgeable of or active participants in an effort to extract from a foreign nation the personal political benefits sought by the president," Schiff wrote.
A memorandum of that call, released a day after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the impeachment probe, shows Trump asking Zelenskiy to "look into" the Bidens and Burisma, a Ukrainian gas company where Hunter served as a board member while his father was vice president.
Trump and his allies have alleged that Joe Biden, as Barack Obama's vice president, called for the firing of a Ukrainian prosecutor general in order to protect his son. But those allegations are unsubstantiated, and Joe Biden's calls for Ukraine to fire that prosecutor were echoed by many other Western nations at the time.
Trump also asked Zelenskiy to "do us a favor though" and also investigate a debunked conspiracy theory that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election — rather than Russia, which is blamed for election interference by virtually all U.S. intelligence officials.
"This is the result of a president who believes he is beyond indictment, beyond impeachment, beyond any form of accountability and indeed above the law," Schiff said in a press event later Tuesday. "And that is a very dangerous thing for this country, to have an unethical president who believes they are above the law."
During this call, hundreds of millions of dollars in crucial military aid to Ukraine had been withheld by the Trump administration. Multiple witnesses in the probe testified that they were told by acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney that Trump asked for that money to be frozen.
Mulvaney has refused to comply with a House subpoena for his testimony as part of the impeachment inquiry. Numerous other officials have been directed by the White House not to comply with the probe, and the State Department and other agencies are refusing to hand over documents requested by the investigators.
These obstacles to the investigation are all included in the report under a broad heading alleging that Trump "Obstructed the Impeachment Inquiry by Instructing Witnesses and Agencies to Ignore Subpoenas for Documents and Testimony."
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