Democrats in the US House of Representatives on Tuesday presented a forceful case for impeaching and removing US President Donald Trump from office in a report detailing “overwhelming evidence” of misconduct in office and obstruction.
Immediately dismissed by the White House as the product of a “one-sided sham process,” the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence report accused Trump of subverting national security as he pressured Ukraine for dirt on a Democratic election rival, former US vice president Joe Biden.
Behind closed doors late on Tuesday, the Democratic-led panel voted 13 to nine, along strict party lines as expected, to officially adopt and issue the report to the House Committee on the Judiciary, which is tasked with drafting articles of impeachment against the US president.
The 300-page document, meant to serve as the basis for the charges against Trump, also mapped out in detail what it called an unparalleled effort of obstruction, including witness intimidation, to stifle the probe into Trump’s Ukraine scheme.
“The president placed his personal political interests above the national interests of the United States, sought to undermine the integrity of the US presidential election process, and endangered US national security,” the final report on the Intelligence Committee’s investigation said.
“President Trump and his senior officials may see nothing wrong with using the power of the office of the president to pressure a foreign country to help the president’s reelection campaign,” it said.
“However, the Founding Fathers prescribed a remedy for a chief executive who places his personal interests above those of the country: impeachment,” it said.
The report, the product of a probe sparked by a whistle-blower’s complaint in August, mapped out a months-long scheme by Trump, his personal lawyer, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, and senior diplomats to pressure Ukraine’s president into investigating Biden, the favorite to win the Democratic nomination next year.
Trump also pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate a “conspiracy theory” that it was Ukraine, and not Russia, that interfered in the 2016 US election, to benefit the Democrats, the report said.
In both cases, it said, Trump conditioned nearly US$400 million in US military aid and a high-profile summit with Zelensky on Kyiv opening the investigations.
Second, the report said, Trump actively sought to obstruct the congressional probe, refusing to provide documents to investigators, preventing witnesses from appearing and threatening some of those who did appear.
“Donald Trump is the first president in the history of the United States to seek to completely obstruct an impeachment inquiry undertaken by the House of Representatives,” it said. “President Trump’s ongoing effort to thwart Congress’ impeachment power risks doing grave harm to the institution of Congress.”
In London for a NATO summit, Trump again accused the Democrats of playing a political game.
“The impeachment is a hoax. It’s turned out to be a hoax. It’s done for purely political gain,” he said.
His spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham, doubled down in dismissing both the report and Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff’s investigation.
“At the end of a one-sided sham process, Chairman Schiff and the Democrats utterly failed to produce any evidence of wrongdoing by President Trump,” she said in a statement.
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