WASHINGTON – The chairman of the U.S. congressional committee that is leading the inquiry into President Donald Trump’s dealings with Ukraine said on Monday the impeachment process would move to the next step shortly after lawmakers return to Washington next week from a break.
House of Representatives Intelligence Committee head Adam Schiff said the panels involved in the impeachment probe would send a report to the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee after lawmakers come back from the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday.
Producing the report is a prerequisite for a possible vote in the Democratic-led House on articles of impeachment — formal charges — against the Republican president.
In a letter to members of Congress, Schiff said “this is an urgent matter that cannot wait if we are to protect the nation’s security and the integrity of our elections.”
Schiff said the probe is continuing and investigators might still hold further depositions or hearings. He said evidence gathered so far was strong, despite the Trump administration having refused to hand over any documents requested under subpoena.
“The testimony and documents we have succeeded in acquiring reveal a fact patter that is overwhelming, unchallenged, and damning,” Schiff said in the letter.
If the articles of impeachment are approved, the Senate, controlled by Republicans, would then hold a trial on whether to convict Trump and remove him from office.
Republicans have shown little inclination toward removing Trump, who is seeking re-election in 2020. Trump denies wrongdoing and he — and many of his fellow Republicans in Congress — have dismissed the inquiry as a sham, hoax or effort by Democrats to overturn the result of the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
The inquiry centers on a July 25 phone call in which Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate political rival Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, as well as a discredited conspiracy theory promoted by Trump that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Hunter Biden had worked for a Ukrainian energy company.