World / Crime & Legal

U.S. House report calls evidence of abuse by Trump 'overwhelming'

Intelligence Committee's report makes impeachment vote all but certain

Bloomberg

House Democrats have laid out their most comprehensive case yet for impeaching Donald Trump, declaring the president “a clear and present danger” over his rush to get foreign governments to investigate a political rival and making his intimidation of witnesses tantamount to a crime.

The report by the House Intelligence Committee on the Democrats’ investigation concluded that Trump abused his power, compromised national security and then tried to cover it up — findings that make a formal House impeachment vote all but certain.

“The evidence of the president’s misconduct is overwhelming, and so too is the evidence of his obstruction of Congress,” the report said. “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 report, approved by the committee Tuesday night on a party-line vote, acknowledges that more information may still come to light in the inquiry but tries to make the case that Trump’s actions require urgent attention by Congress. Democratic leaders are pushing for a formal impeachment vote by the full House by the end of the year to avoid pushing that debate deep into the 2020 presidential campaign.

“We do not intend to delay when the integrity of the next election is at risk,” Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff said. “I am gravely concerned that if we merely accept this, that we invite not only further corruption of out elections by this president, but we also invite it of the next president.”

Obstruction of Congress

The Intelligence panel makes no recommendation on possible articles of impeachment against the president, but the report suggests that Trump’s obstruction goes well beyond that of his predecessors who were investigated by Congress.

“Unlike President Trump, past presidents who were the subject of impeachment inquiries — including Presidents Andrew Johnson, Richard Nixon, and Bill Clinton — acknowledged Congress’ authority to investigate and, to varying degrees, complied with information requests and subpoenas,” the report said.

The report catalogs a dozen senior current and former officials that Trump blocked from testifying to impeachment inquiry. And it lays out the unusual roles in the saga played by Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, as well as by the top Republican on the Intelligence panel, Devin Nunes.

While most of the report was drawn from the hours and hours of public hearings and transcripts release by the panel, it offered new call records obtained from AT&T showing Giuliani in contact with phone numbers associated with the White House, the Office of Management and Budget, Nunes and Giuliani associate Lev Parnas. The report doesn’t say who in the White House or OMB participated in the calls.

The calls and texts were made during the time period when Giuliani was publicly discussing his efforts to pursue investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son and into supposed Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election. Schiff said the call records also show that “there was considerable coordination among the parties, including the White House,” in a smear campaign against then-Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch.

Continued investigation

The report will be sent to the Judiciary Committee, which will draft possible articles of impeachment that the House would vote on.

Schiff declined to say explicitly if he thinks Trump should be impeached. Speaking with reporters after the 300-page document was released, he limited himself to expressing his concern with the precedent that would be set if Trump is not held accountable for his actions.

While the Intelligence Committee led the public hearings and drafted the report in consultation with the panels on Oversight and Foreign Affairs, the impeachment rules set by the House allow for other committees to also recommend articles of impeachment from non-Ukraine-related investigations of the Trump administration. Democrats are still discussing the scope of the articles to be put on the House floor.

“It will be up to the Congress to determine whether these acts rise to the level of an impeachable offense, whether the president shall be held to account, and whether we as a nation are committed to the rule of law — or, instead, whether a president who uses the power of his office to coerce foreign interference in a U.S. election is something that Americans must simply ‘get over,'” Schiff said in a statement along with Oversight Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney and Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel.

Republican report

A dissenting report released Monday by the Republican minority on the Intelligence Committee said “none of the Democrats’ witnesses testified to having evidence of bribery, extortion, or any high crime or misdemeanor,” which are all reasons listed in the Constitution to impeach a president.

Rather, the Republican report says the impeachment inquiry “paints a picture of unelected bureaucrats within the foreign policy and national security apparatus who fundamentally disagreed with President Trump’s style, world view, and decisions.”

“Their disagreements with President Trump’s policies and their discomfort with President Trump’s actions set in motion the anonymous, secondhand whistle-blower complaint,” the Republican report said. “Democrats seized on the whistle-blower complaint to fulfill their years-old obsession with removing President Trump from office.”