House launches formal impeachment inquiry into Trump
The White House is preparing to release to Congress the whistleblower complaint as early as tomorrow, according to two sources familiar.
One source added it is under review and going through declassification and could be released within hours of the release of a transcript of President Trump's phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. According to a person familiar with the situation, Trump pressed Zelensky in a phone call to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden's son, Hunter.
What we know about the whistleblower complaint: CNN had earlier reported, citing a source familiar with the case, that the complaint was prompted by concerns over communications between the President and a foreign leader. The alleged whistleblower didn't have direct knowledge of the communications that partly prompted the complaint to the inspector general, an official briefed on the matter told CNN on Thursday. Instead, the whistleblower's concerns came in part from learning information that was not obtained during the course of their work, and those details have played a role in the administration's determination that the complaint didn't fit the reporting requirements under the intelligence whistleblower law, the official said.
Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, tweeted his support for the House's formal impeachment inquiry.
"It’s bad enough Trump sought help from a foreign power in the last election," Schiff said.
His support comes hours after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the formal inquiry, a dramatic and historic move that comes as the President faces outrage over reports that he pressured a foreign leader in an effort to target a political rival.
Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar told CNN that President Trump's phone call with Ukraine's president was "the straw that broke the camel's back" for the House deciding to move forward with an impeachment inquiry.
"This particular incident shows that the President clearly thinks he's above the law. He is withholding aid so he can pressure a foreign country to dig dirt on a potential presidential opponent. That is very unconstitutional and we must hold him responsible," Omar said.
Calls for an impeachment inquiry have grown louder amid a growing controversy over Trump's July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky where he discussed former Vice President Joe Biden.
Of the 235 Democrats in the House, there are at least 172 who've made clear they support starting the impeachment inquiry process, while some have gone further, according to a CNN count.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told her caucus today that the impeachment inquiry will be done "expeditiously," but wasn't specific in her timeframe, according to a source in the room during the meeting.
Rep. Jackie Speier told CNN that the President’s actions in regards to Ukraine were so egregious, that there has been a “dramatic” shift by Pelosi.
“I think she’s very laser-focused on this offense as being so egregious that it warrants a full blown impeachment inquiry,” she said.
Asked what the timeline is for this, she said, “swiftly.”
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler said today after Pelosi’s remarks, “I only have one thing to say, full speed ahead.”
Rep. Ben McAdams of Utah told CNN today that he's "considering" impeachment, but didn't want to discuss the issue further.
"Before making any judgments, I want to know the facts of what occurred between the President and Ukraine," McAdams said. "I share Sen. (Mitt) Romney's view that If the President used his position to pressure a foreign power to dig up dirt on a rival for his own personal gain, it would be deeply troubling. I believe it would be a betrayal of the loyalty owed to our country and the Constitution."
Rep. Max Rose, another endangered House Democrat, told CNN that he has not moved off his opposition to impeachment, but argued that "we have to get to the facts" of the allegations.
"It is impossible to not take these allegations seriously. It is a national security matter," the New York Democrat said Tuesday on Capitol Hill, adding, "It's incredibly serious ... what I'm not going to do is jump to make another declaration."
Asked if that meant he is opposed to moving ahead on impeachment, Rose said, "My current position right now is clear, but that is not a justification to not take these points as seriously as possible."
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said his conversations with President Trump are “private and confidential.”
Asked if he wanted the transcript of his phone call with Trump to be released, Zelensky said “We’ll see.”
About the call: According to a person familiar with the situation, Trump pressed Zelensky in a call to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden's son, Hunter.
President Trump tweeted just now that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo received permission from Ukraine to release a transcript of his call with President Volodymyr Zelensky.
"They don’t know either what the big deal is," Trump said.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called today's announcement of a formal impeachment inquiry a "rush to judgment" by "Washington Democrats" who are determined to impeach President Trump.
"It simply confirms that House Democrats’ priority is not making life better for the American people but their nearly three-year-old fixation on impeachment," he said.
Read McConnell's full statement:
“Washington Democrats have been searching for ways to reverse their 2016 election defeat since before President Trump was even inaugurated.
The result has been a two-and-a-half-year impeachment parade in search of a rationale. When investigations by Special Counsel Mueller and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence deflated their breathless accusations of a campaign conspiracy with Russia, Democrats have simply shifted to new arguments for their predetermined conclusion.
Speaker Pelosi’s much-publicized efforts to restrain her far-left conference have finally crumbled. House Democrats cannot help themselves. Instead of working together across party lines on legislation to help American families and strengthen our nation, they will descend even deeper into their obsession with relitigating 2016.
This rush to judgment comes just a few hours after President Trump offered to release the details of his phone conversation with President Zelensky. It comes despite the fact that committee-level proceedings are already underway to address the whistleblower allegation through a fair, bipartisan, and regular process.
It simply confirms that House Democrats’ priority is not making life better for the American people but their nearly three-year-old fixation on impeachment.”
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy blasted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for launching a formal impeachment inquiry into President Trump.
"Speaker Pelosi happens to be the speaker of this House but she does not speak for America when it comes to this issue. She cannot decide unilaterally what happens here. They have been investigating this President before he even got elected," he told reporters.
He criticized Democrats for going after Trump, saying, "This election is over."
"It's time to put the public before politics," McCarthy said.