Former Vice President Joe Biden said Tuesday if President Donald Trump does not cooperate with Congress, he would leave lawmakers with “no choice” but to start impeachment proceedings.
“It is time for this administration stop stonewalling and provide the Congress with all the facts it needs, including a copy of the formal complaint made by the whistleblower. And it’s time for the Congress to fully investigate the conduct of this President,” Biden said.
The Democratic presidential candidate said if Trump “does not comply with such a request from the Congress, if he continues to obstruct Congress, and flout the law, Donald Trump will leave Congress, in my view, no choice but to initiate impeachment.”
“That would be a tragedy, but a tragedy of his own making,” he said, speaking from Wilmington, Delaware.
Biden’s comments on Tuesday were the most direct statement he has made on impeachment. But by making his call for Trump’s removal conditional, he stopped short of some of his Democratic rivals, including Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who are calling for the House to impeach Trump now.
“I can take the political attacks,” Biden said. “They’ll come and they’ll go, and in time they’ll soon be forgotten, but if we allow a President to get away with shredding the United States Constitution, that will last forever.”
“Denying Congress the information, which it is constitutionally entitled to, and obstructing its efforts to investigate actions is not the conduct of an American President,” Biden said. “It’s an abuse of power.”
Biden said when he announced his candidacy he believed the “core values of this nation, our very democracy, was at risk.” He said “events in recent days have made that even clearer.”
Trump is facing intense criticism over a July phone call during which, according to a person familiar with the matter, he pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Biden’s son, Hunter. There is no evidence of wrongdoing by either Joe or Hunter Biden. Trump on Sunday acknowledged the phone call and that he discussed Biden, but denied doing anything improper.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is expected to announce a formal impeachment inquiry later Tuesday, multiple sources on Capitol Hill tell CNN.
Trump tweeted Tuesday he has “authorized the release tomorrow of the complete, fully declassified and unredacted transcript of my phone conversation with President Zelensky of Ukraine.”
CNN confirmed Trump asked his acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney to put a hold on millions in military aid to Ukraine roughly one week before a call with Zelensky, two senior administration officials said on Monday. The Washington Post first reported this.
The call between Trump and Zelensky, which took place one day after former special counsel Robert Mueller testified before Congress about Russian interference in US elections, was also part of a whistleblower complaint submitted to the Intelligence Community Inspector General, the source added. The Wall Street Journal was first to report Trump pressured Zelensky during the July phone call.
Trump admitted Tuesday he delayed aid to Ukraine ahead of the call to Zelensky, giving the excuse that he was waiting for European nations to contribute their fair share of aid.
The Washington Post first reported Monday Trump had directed his acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney to freeze nearly $400 million of US military and security aid to Ukraine in the days before he spoke with Zelensky.
This story is breaking and will be updated.