Congress

Intelligence Committee details ‘overwhelming’ evidence of Trump misconduct

Panel poised to approve report on impeachment probe behind closed doors

Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., leaves the House Intelligence Committee hearing on the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump on Nov. 15. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday laid out the case for impeaching President Donald Trump for withholding military aid to Ukraine in exchange for Kyiv investigating his political rival, and for obstructing the House’s probe.

A report from the House Intelligence Committee detailed the findings after weeks of private and public testimony from career bureaucrats and Trump appointees.

The preface of the report says Trump “subverted U.S. foreign policy toward Ukraine and undermined our national security in favor of two politically motivated investigations that would help his presidential reelection campaign.”

The committee found the evidence of Trump's misconduct to be “overwhelming, and so too is the evidence of his obstruction of Congress.”

“Indeed, it would be hard to imagine a stronger or more complete case of obstruction than that demonstrated by the President since the inquiry began,” the committee wrote.

The House Intelligence Committee voted, 13-9, along party lines late Tuesday to release the impeachment report to the House Judiciary Committee for further action on the inquiry.

Trump ordered many officials in his administration not to aid the committee in its probe, which House Intelligence Chairman Adam B. Schiff of California says he believes is another impeachable charge.

“Despite President Trump’s unprecedented and categorical commands, the House gathered overwhelming evidence of his misconduct from courageous individuals who were willing to follow the law, comply with duly authorized subpoenas, and tell the truth,” the report’s preface says, praising administration officials and career government employees who spoke to the committee.

Devin Nunes, R-Calif., appears frequently in the report as a result of phone records the investigation obtained that show the Intelligence panel’s ranking member was heavily involved in conversations with multiple Trump associates under scrutiny in the probe.

Despite the conclusions in his committee's report, Schiff said he will continue to reserve judgment during the inquiry on whether Trump should be impeached. Schiff also said his committee will continue its investigation even as the focus turns to the House Judiciary Committee, which will ultimately draft any articles of impeachment.

The Intelligence chairman did not rule out filing supplemental reports if the committee finds more facts. Schiff said waiting to find out the “last facts” of the case could put the country at “grave risk.”

“This is not about Ukraine, this is about our democracy, this is about our national security,” Schiff said.

Report’s findings

The 150-page report, written by the staff of the House Intelligence, Oversight and Reform and Foreign Affairs Committees, outlines conclusions based on two months of investigation, including public and private testimony from administration officials and diplomats who described a coordinated effort by the president to get Ukraine to announce investigations into political rival Joe Biden, while withholding military assistance and a coveted White House meeting for Ukraine’s new president Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

The conclusions, which the report refers to as “key findings of fact,” include that Trump “ordered and implemented a campaign to conceal his conduct from the public and frustrate and obstruct the House of Representatives’ impeachment inquiry.”

Democrats have repeatedly said efforts to thwart the House investigation could be compiled and submitted by the Judiciary Committee as a standalone article of impeachment for obstruction.

The report also concludes that Trump, acting personally and in cooperation with his allies in the administration and outside of government, solicited foreign interference by Ukraine in the 2020 presidential election.

“The President placed his personal 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 says.

The president’s Republican allies on Capitol Hill released their own report on Monday, condemning the impeachment effort as illegitimate.

The 123-page preemptive rebuttal, authored by Republican staff of the Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs panels, pans the impeachment inquiry as “an orchestrated campaign to upend our political system” and argues that the evidence does not prove Democrats’ allegations against Trump.

National security concerns

Trump presenting a threat to national security is a major theme of the findings of Democrats on the Intelligence Committee.

The report asserts that in the scheme to solicit politically motivated investigations, Trump failed to “implement, promote, or advance U.S. anti-corruption policies.” That, in turn, “undermined U.S. policy supporting anti-corruption reform and the rule of law in Ukraine, and undermined U.S. national security,” the report states.

The report also outlines how the $391 million in withheld military assistance to Ukraine starved a strategic partner — engaged in an active conflict with Russia — of resources and support that could embolden Russian aggression in the region.

The report highlights that when the president’s effort to spur investigations into Biden were revealed, he doubled down on the requests that foreign governments including China and Ukraine investigate his political rival.

“This continued solicitation of foreign interference in a U.S. election presents a clear and present danger that the President will continue to use the power of his office for his personal political gain,” the report says.

Phone calls

Nunes is featured prominently in the Democrats' report.

AT&T forked over phone records to the panel that show that Nunes spoke several times to Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani around the time that Giuliani was launching public attacks on Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, and arranging a trip to Ukraine to dig for negative material on Biden.

In April, Nunes talked to Giuliani’s associate Lev Parnas, whose lawyer has claimed he was specifically tasked by Trump to investigate Joe and Hunter Biden's activities in Ukraine. Parnas was indicted in October.

Also in April, records show phone calls between Giuliani and a phone number associated with the Office of Management and Budget, the agency where the aid for Ukraine was held in limbo.

 

Another phone call listed in the phone records is between Kash Patel, a former Nunes staffer who is now a National Security Council aide, and Giuliani.

The pair spoke for 25 minutes on May 10, just after Giuliani briefed former Ukraine envoy Kurt Volker on his upcoming trip to Ukraine.

“The phone records show that there was considerable coordination among the parties, including the White House,” Schiff said Tuesday.

Nunes has repeatedly accused Schiff of lacking transparency throughout the investigation leading up to the report and has called the inquiry a sham. He has not publicly disclosed his calls with Parnas or Giuliani.

Schiff earlier said he would “reserve comment” on Nunes in response to a question about whether the California Republican should recuse himself from the committee’s Tuesday vote.

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Lindsey McPherson contributed to this report.

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