Democrats release Trump impeachment report
The Vice President's chief of staff, Marc Short, blasted House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff after the release of Democrats' report.
"Adam Schiff is a proven liar and this allegation further solidifies that well-earned reputation," Short said.
The report highlights Vice President Mike Pence's role in the Ukraine pressure campaign and his careful statement about the investigations.
Democrats accuse Pence’s office of crafting a “carefully worded statement” responding to US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland’s testimony, arguing that the statement did not address the actual claims in the testimony. Sondland testified that he told Pence, during a trip to Warsaw in early September, that the withholding of military aid had “become tied to the issue of investigations.”
The report accuses Pence, along with senior members of the administration, of being “either knowledgeable of or active participants in an effort to extract from a foreign nation the personal political benefits sought by the President,” and heavily relies on what Sondland testifies he told the vice president in Warsaw.
House Intelligence Committee chair Adam Schiff said there is "grave risk to the country" in waiting for more evidence in the impeachment case when Congress knows "enough about the President’s misconduct to make a responsible judgement."
Schiff said the Democrats will continue to investigate and his committee could send additional information to the Judiciary Committee in the future.
“But there is, I think, grave risk to the country with waiting until we have every last fact, when we already know enough about the President’s misconduct to make a responsible judgement about whether we think that’s compatible with the office of the president," he said.
Rudy Giuliani connected into the White House Situation Room by phone in May after The New York Times revealed his plans to travel to Ukraine and press the leader there to investigate the Bidens, the report says.
The calls into the Situation Room and the White House switchboard on May 9, which the report described as “brief connections,” preceded a four-minute phone call that Giuliani held with someone at the White House, and were part of a flurry of calls that the President’s personal attorney made in the hours following the newspaper report.
On May 10, when he eventually said that he had cancelled the trip, Giuliani spoke for more than 25 minutes with Kash Patel, the NSC official who had previously worked under Devin Nunes on the House Committee, the report says.
Giuliani also spoke with Hill reporter John Solomon, indicted associate Lev Parnas, an unidentified number, and Ambassador Kurt Volker — for more than 30 minutes — in that two day period. Volker told the committee that he warned Giuliani in the phone call not to trust former Ukrainian prosecutor general Yuriy Lutsenko, according to the report.
House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff said the committee's top Republican Rep. Devin Nunes was linked to an effort of coordinating with a conservative journalist to peddle "false narratives" about President Trump's opponents.
He called Nunes' phone conversations “deeply concerning” and said “there’s a lot more to learn.”
“I don’t want to state that there is unequivocal fact but the allegations are deeply concerning,” Schiff told reporters at a news conference today,
He continued: “Our focus is on the President's conduct first and foremost. It may be the role of others to evaluate the conduct of members of Congress."
An attorney for indicted Giuliani associate Lev Parnas just tweeted, "Devin Nunes, you should have recused yourself at the outset" of the impeachment hearings.
The post was a quote tweet of a Politico reporter who earlier tweeted call logs from the report showing that Nunes, ranking member on the intel committee, and Parnas were in touch multiple times in April.
The tweet from Parnas' attorney, Joseph Bondy, included the hashtag #LetLevSpeak.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell talked extensively today on how an impeachment trial might play out.
McConnell said if an agreement with Democrats can’t be reached on a resolution dictating how the trial is run, Republicans could use the strength of their majority vote to push one through.
“There are three ways this could end up being handled," he said on a Senate trial, adding that “51 senators of any particular persuasion could workout procedure for handling it.”
McConnell also suggested that he and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer could work out an agreement "on what the procedure would be in the Senate."
He went on to say each issue that comes up could be dealt with like a “jump ball.”
“If we don’t work out the procedure in advance, at a minimum, we would probably go forward with the House, presenting the case," McConnell said. "The President's lawyers presenting the argument. And then a series of motions could be made if the Chief Justice handles it the way Chief Justice Rehnquist did all of those will be submitted to the body and voted on and so a motion could encompass almost any suggestion.”
McConnell added the reason he provided such a lengthy answer is because he said “there is no answer at the moment.”
He also said he anticipates Chief Justice John Roberts will play a “passive role” since that is “the way Rehnquist did it."
"Basically submitting suggestions to the body, and they voting on it," McConnell said.
The House Intelligence Committee described a wide-ranging and coordinated campaign by the Department of Defense, the White House, Office of Management and Budget, the Vice President’s office, and State to withhold key documents.
The excruciating detail shows how witnesses told the committee about specific documents and information that they weren’t able to recall or turn over because the administration was blocking it. The level of detail makes clear that this is a roadmap for an article of impeachment regarding obstruction of Congress.
The committee lays out in individual sections instances of documents being withheld from the intelligence committee. Here are a few examples:
The Vice President's office:
- Any notes taken by National Security Adviser to Mike Pence Keith Kellogg or Pence aide Jennifer Williams
- “A July 12 email from White House Assistant to the President and Senior Advisor to the Chief of Staff Robert Blair to Associate Director Duffey explaining that the “President is directing a hold on military support for Ukraine” and not mentioning any other country or security assistance package."
- “Notes and memoranda to file from Mr. Kent, Ambassador Taylor, and others, including Ambassador Taylor’s 'little notebook' in which he would 'take notes on conversations, in particular when I’m not in the office,' such as meetings with Ukrainians or when out and receiving a phone call,” as well as his 'small, little spiral notebook' of calls that took place in the office.”
- Notes taken of July 25 phone call and any briefing materials given to President Trump
Department of Energy:
- “A document passed directly from Secretary Perry to President Zelensky in a May 2019 meeting with a list of 'people he trusts' that President Zelensky could seek advice from on issues of relating to 'key Ukrainian energy-sector contacts,' according to David Holmes, the Political Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv”
Department of Defense:
- “An email sent to Ms. Cooper’s staff on July 25 at 4:25 p.m. stating that the Ukrainian Embassy and The Hill newspaper had become aware of the situation with the military assistance funding”
- “An email received by Ms. Cooper’s staff on July 3 at 4:23 p.m. from the Department of State explaining that the Department of State “had heard the CN [Congressional Notification] is currently being blocked by OMB.”
House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff, discussing never-before-seen phone records included in the report, said there is "more investigative work to be done."
The records show a web of communications between a conservative journalist, Trump officials and Republicans, which led to a "smear campaign" against former US Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, according to the report.
"There was more investigative work to be done," Schiff said in a news conference, adding that perhaps the scheme began even before Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was elected in April.
"One of the issues that we are looking into is, did this scheme begin far earlier than we first understood? Was the scheme, in fact, put in place to try to pressure the last president of the Ukraine, Poroshenko, and his corrupt prosecutor general, Lutsenko, into conducting these same investigations? and was that plan put into turmoil and chaos when this new reformer Zelensky surged in the polling and ultimately won that presidency?" Schiff asked.
Schiff said the issue is "something we continue to investigate and that is something these phone records also shed light on."
In the report, House Democrats accuse Vice President Mike Pence of crafting a “carefully worded statement” during US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland’s testimony, arguing that the statement did not address the actual claims in the testimony.
Sondland testified that he told Pence, during a trip to Warsaw in early September, that the withholding of military aid had “become tied to the issue of investigations.”
The statement released by the Vice President’s office denied ever having “a conversation with Gordon Sondland about investigating the Bidens, Burisma, or the conditional release of financial aid to Ukraine based upon potential investigations.”
The Democrats, however, argue that Sondland did not testify to any of the items listed by Pence’s office.
The report accuses Pence, along with senior members of the administration, of being “either knowledgeable of or active participants in an effort to extract from a foreign nation the personal political benefits sought by the President,” and heavily relies on what Sondland testifies he told the Vice President in Warsaw.