‘Serious misconduct’ by Trump takes centre stage at impeachment hearing

Brenda Watkins
December 4, 2019

Traveling with Trump in London for a meeting of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation leaders, Stephanie Grisham, the White House press secretary, denounced the Democratic report moments after it was released.

Republican Trump, who will stand for re-election in November 2020, denies any wrongdoing and calls the inquiry a hoax.

The impeachment inquiry, initiated by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in late September, has found that Trump, "personally and acting through agents within and outside of the US government, solicited the interference of a foreign government, Ukraine, to benefit his reelection", the report claimed.

While congressional Democrats for months have accused the president of "abuse of power" in connection with pressuring Ukraine, the report conspicuously stopped short of leveling that charge.

Over two weeks of public hearings last month, a number of the 12 witnesses who testified confirmed and elaborated on the efforts allegedly made by Trump, his associates and administration officials to get Ukraine to announce investigations into those two issues, and why they believed delayed USA aid to Ukraine would only be released once that nation followed through on those demands.

The House Judiciary Committee is moving swiftly to weigh findings by fellow lawmakers that U.S. President Donald Trump misused the power of his office for personal political gain and then obstructed Congress' investigation as possible grounds for impeachment. That panel will begin proceedings on Wednesday.

The report also describes "unprecedented" effort to obstruct the investigation, including attempts to block testimony and refusing to provide documents.

The Democrats argue that "damage. will be long-lasting and potentially irrevocable if the President's ability to stonewall Congress goes unchecked".

So far, analysts doubt Trump's fellow Republicans would convict and remove him from power, although some politicians have raised the idea of a censure in recent days as a way to rebuke the president's actions without the risk of removal from office.

"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", Grisham said.

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.

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If the president is impeached by the House - where Democrats have the votes to do that - there would then be a trial in the Senate on removing Trump from office. Harvard Law Professor Noah Feldman, one of the four academics that Nadler calls to testify, assaults Trump since day one, as do many Democrats in the House.

"Chairman Schiff's report reads like the ramblings of a basement blogger straining to prove something when there is evidence of nothing", Grisham said.

The inquiry centres around whether Trump froze almost US$400 million in military aid to pressure Ukraine to publicly announce separate investigations into interference in the 2016 USA presidential election, as well as former vice-president and political rival Joe Biden's son Hunter and his work on the board of a Ukrainian energy company.

The intelligence panel adopted it, strictly along partisan lines, hours after its release. It was not immediately clear how each member voted.

While Democrats hold the majority in the United States house of representatives, Republicans control the senate, and not one Republican member in the upper chamber has signalled support for kicking Mr Trump out of office.

The report also brought to light new allegations by Democrats about phone calls between Trump's Republican allies.

"And so this is a threat to the integrity of the upcoming election, and we don't feel it should wait, in particular when we already have overwhelming evidence of the president's misconduct". It also suggests that other senior administration officials may have been involved.

U.S. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff addresses a news conference with Capitol Hill reporters ahead of a committee vote on its findings in the impeachment inquiry into U.S. President Donald Trump on Capitol Hill in Washington.

"So, when it's fair, and it'll be fair in the Senate, I'd love to have [Secretary of State] Mike Pompeo, I'd love to have Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick [Mulvaney], I'd love to have [former Energy Secretary] Rick Perry, and many other people testify", said Trump.

"Like all companies, we are required by law to provide information to government and law enforcement agencies", the statement said.

A spokesman for Nunes did not respond to a request for comment.

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