The House Intelligence Committee voted along party lines to approve the committee’s impeachment report that accused President Trump of using the power of his office to solicit foreign interference in the 2020 elections.
The report, published by the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, also claimed the president obstructed the impeachment investigation.
The committee, headed by California Democrat Adam Schiff, met at 6 p.m. and voted 13-9 to approve the report and send it to the House Judiciary Committee. There are 13 Democrats and 9 Republicans who sit on the House Intelligence Committee.
The Judiciary Committee will open its own impeachment proceedings on Wednesday.
House Democrats released the report after the Intelligence panel conducted a handful of closed-door meetings with witnesses and last month held five days of public hearings with 12 individuals giving sworn testimony.
The House Intelligence Committee, headed by Adam Schiff (pictured), released its impeachment investigation report Tuesday
The report accuses Donald Trump of soliciting a foreign government – Ukraine – to influence the 2020 elections and also of obstructing the impeachment investigation
If the full House eventually votes to approve formal impeachment charges, a trial would be held in the Republican-led U.S. Senate, where a two-thirds majority of those present would be required to convict and remove Trump from office.
The report airs nine accusations that resulted from the Intelligence Committee’s investigation, with the most powerful being a charge that Trump ‘solicited the interference of a foreign government, Ukraine, in the 2020 U.S. presidential election … [and] … sought to undermine the integrity of the U.S. presidential election process.’
Democrats say the president ‘sought to pressure and induce Ukraine’s newly-elected president, Volodymyr Zelensky, to publicly announce unfounded investigations’ targeting former Vice President Joe Biden. That, they say, would give Trump a political benefit from the power of his office.
Trump, they write, ‘publicly and repeatedly persisted in urging foreign governments, including Ukraine and China, to investigate his political opponent.’
At the center of the controversy is $391 million of military aid bound for Kiev—money meant to defend the former Soviet bloc nation from invading Russia troops.
Trump withheld that assistance ‘without any legitimate foreign policy, national security, or anti-corruption justification,’ Democrats claim in their report.
Constitutional scholars have doubted publicly that Congress has the power to quibble with how a president executes his duties. But Congress authorized spending the money, which sat in foreign-policy purgatory for months.
Trump’s impeachment may hang on the claim that he obstructed Congress, something that can be prosecuted as a crime—and may persuade reluctant House members to get behind Schiff and other impeachment leaders.
‘President Trump ordered and implemented a campaign to conceal his conduct from the public and frustrate and obstruct the House of Representatives’ impeachment inquiry,’ reads one damning line of the report.
‘The evidence of the President’s misconduct is overwhelming, and so too is the evidence of his obstruction of Congress,’ Schiff wrote in a foreword to the report. ‘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 also revealed call records between Republican ranking member of the Intelligence Committee Devin Nunes and Rudy Giuliani and his Ukrainian-born business associate Lev Parnas.
The calls are among some of the only new pieces of information that have emerged from the Democrat report, which relies heavily on public hearings and testimony that has already been made public.
The report comes after five days pf public testimony last week in the House Intelligence Committee – which including a hearing with U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, who confirmed he believes Trump set a quid pro quo with Ukraine
‘It is deeply concerning that at a time when the President of the United States was using the power of his office to dig up dirt on a political rival, that there may be evidence that there may be members of congress complicit in that activity,’ Schiff said of Nunes’ correspondence.
The April contacts between Nunes and Parnas and the ranking member and Trump’s personal attorney came at a time where Giuliani and Parnas where leading a smear campaign against then U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.
Parnas and fellow Giuliani associate Igor Fruman have been indicted for campaign finance violations after they were arrested at Washington D.C.-area airport Dulles International in October with one-way tickets out of the country.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced at the end of September that the House was opening an impeachment investigation into the president.
The genesis of the probe came from a whistle-blower complaint revealing the nature of Trump’s July 25 phone call with his Ukrainian counterpart.
The proceedings are aimed at determining if Trump misused the power of the presidency to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigating political rival and former Vice President Joe Biden to potentially hurt his chances in 2020.
At issue is whether Trump misused the power of his office to pressure Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, a leading contender for the Democratic nomination to face Trump in the 2020 election.
Trump has denied any wrongdoing and accused Democrats of using the impeachment process to overturn the results of the 2016 presidential election, denouncing the investigation as a ‘witch hunt.’
Democrats, however, insist he set a quid pro quo with Ukraine by freezing military aid a few days before the now-infamous call with Zelensky – claiming the president made the assistance dependent on Kiev announcing an investigation into Biden and his son Hunter.
Public opinion polls show Americans are bitterly divided over whether Congress should impeach Trump.
Lawmakers and the public have heard testimony from current and former officials about the military aid freeze. And Democrats have also made the case that a White House meeting with then-newly-elected Zelensky was conditioned on Kiev conducting the probe.
Witnesses also testified to issues related to a debunked conspiracy theory about Ukraine interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
The Democratic Intelligence report comes a day after Republicans on three House committee wrote their own impeachment inquiry report.
The GOP’s 123-page prebuttal to the Democrats’ referral for impeachment, concluded that Trump’s hesitation to meet with Zelensky and his aid freeze was ‘absolutely prudent.’
It also reinforces the conspiracy theory that Ukraine meddled in the 2016 elections in favor of Hillary Clinton – either on its own or alongside Russia.
The Republican report was written by ranking members Devin Nunes, Jim Jordan and Mike McCaul of the House Intelligence, Judiciary and Foreign Affairs Committees, respectively.
The report was leaked to reporters on Monday, and then later in the day released more publicly.