The United States House Intelligence Committee released Tuesday the report documenting the impeachment case against President Donald Trump, laying out the conclusions of its inquiry into allegations that he abused his power by pressuring Ukraine to investigate Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden.
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"The President engaged in this course of conduct for the benefit of his own presidential reelection, to harm the election prospects of a political rival, and to influence our nation's upcoming presidential election to his advantage," the report reads but falls short of outright recommending impeachment, saying that is a decision for Congress to ultimately make.
However, the 300-page report sets the stage for the House Judiciary Committee over whether to proceed and draft articles of impeachment. The Judiciary panel, chaired by Rep. Jerry Nadler of New York, is holding its first impeachment hearing on Wednesday with legal experts.
"... the president placed his own personal and political interests above the national interests of the United States, sought to undermine the integrity of the U.S. presidential election process, and endangered U.S. national security," the report adds.
The Ukraine scandal is the result of a whistleblower from within the U.S. intelligence community lodging a complaint with an internal watchdog about Trump’s conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
The July 25 call, which was later released by the White House, confirmed that the U.S. president asked Zelenskiy to investigate his political rival in coordination with the U.S. attorney general and Trump’s personal lawyer, which in turn occurred after Trump had ordered a freeze of nearly US$400 million in U.S. aid to Ukraine, which the administration only later released.
Federal election law prohibits candidates from accepting foreign help in an election.
The Democratic report is the results of a two-month investigation, which included 17 witness interviews, 12 of those at two weeks of public hearings.
The list included U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, Foreign Policy aide to Vice President Mike Pence Jennifer Williams, U.S. Ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, among others.
The diplomat admitted in a revised version of his earlier testimony that in fact, he told a Ukrainian official the U.S. would withhold aid unless they pursued investigations against Biden demanded by Trump.
The details now appear to reinforce the initial whistleblower complaint that led to the investigation by three U.S. House of Representatives committees. The testimony also corroborates other witnesses who said Trump sought to pressure the Ukrainians into conducting investigations that appeared to be aimed at helping his re-election campaign.
Under the U.S. Constitution, the House has the power to impeach a president for “high crimes and misdemeanors” and the Senate then holds a trial on whether to remove the president from office. No president has ever been removed from office through impeachment. Democrats currently control the House and Republicans control the Senate.