House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff on Wednesday called the reports that President Donald Trump pressured a foreign leader in an effort to target a political rival “the most serious misconduct of the President thus far.”
“There’s certainly enough to launch a formal impeachment inquiry. And at the end of the day, there may be enough to impeach the President. But we need to get the full facts first,” Schiff told CNN’s John Berman on “New Day.”
Schiff had been hesitant in calling for an impeachment inquiry, even as several of his more progressive Democratic colleagues pushed for it in the wake of former special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 election. But the Ukraine bombshell has led him to change his stance.
“That compelled me to go down this path, and as you say, I have been deeply reluctant to, but I think he’s given us no choice,” Schiff said.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday announced a formal impeachment inquiry into Trump over the allegations that the President sought foreign assistance in targeting a political rival and may have leveraged withholding federal aid to a foreign nation unless an investigation was launched.
CNN reported last week that Trump pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in a July 25 call to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden. There has been no evidence of wrongdoing by either Joe or Hunter Biden.
That phone call was also part of a whistleblower complaint submitted to the Intelligence Community Inspector General.
Schiff announced Tuesday that the whistleblower who filed the complaint would like to speak to the committee and has requested guidance from acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire on how to do so.
On Monday, The Washington Post first reported that the President 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.
Trump admitted over the weekend that he discussed Biden during the phone call with Ukraine’s president, but denied doing anything improper. He also revealed on Monday that he did delay aid to Ukraine, but claimed that it was unrelated to Biden.
The President announced on Tuesday that he has authorized the release of the “complete, fully declassified and unredacted transcript” on Wednesday of his phone call with Zelensky.