Recapping the Trump impeachment inquiry

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Recapping the Trump impeachment inquiry

President Donald Trump on the phone in the Oval Office. Official White House photo by Joyce N. Boghosian

President Donald Trump on the phone in the Oval Office. Official White House photo by Joyce N. Boghosian

President Donald Trump on the phone in the Oval Office. Official White House photo by Joyce N. Boghosian

President Donald Trump on the phone in the Oval Office. Official White House photo by Joyce N. Boghosian

Sarah Strubbe, Editor

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On September 24, Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the initiation of an impeachment inquiry by the House against President Donald Trump. Over a month later, this is what has happened in the inquiry so far:

 Trump was charged with betraying his oath of office and the security of the nation by seeking the help of a foreign power to find damaging information against an opponent for his own personal gain. On a phone call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, Trump allegedly pushed Zelensky to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, both directly and through attorney general William Barr and Rudolph Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer.

“There’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great,” Trump said in the reconstructed transcript of the phone call to Zelensky.

Trump also brought up the subject of American aid to Ukraine.

“I will say that we do a lot for Ukraine,” Trump said in the reconstructed transcript. “We spend a lot of effort and a lot of time.”

Trump responded by shifting the focus of conversation to Ukraine’s work with Barr and Giuliani.

“I would like you to do us a favor, though,” Trump said in the reconstructed transcript. “Whatever you can do, it’s very important that you do it if that’s possible.” 

White House administration tried to “lock down” a word-for-word transcript of the call.

In addition, an intelligence official filed a whistle-blower complaint regarding Trump’s actions. While the identity of the whistleblower remains anonymous, the inspector general for the intelligence community called the complaint “credible” and “urgent.” 

The declassified reporter stated, “In the course of my duties, I have received information from multiple U.S. government officials that the President of the United States is using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election. I am also concerned that these actions pose risks to U.S. national security and undermine the U.S. government’s efforts to deter and counter foreign interference in U.S. elections.”

Kurt Volker, the State Department’s special Ukraine envoy, resigned after being named in the whistle-blower complaint as one of the officials trying to “contain the damage.”

The Justice Department announced they were looking into if other countries “played a role in the counterintelligence investigation directed at the Trump campaign.” However, Justice officials said that Trump asking other world leaders to cooperate is not necessarily illegal.

Trump has kept his focus on the whistle-blower. He said he wishes to “interview” the individual, despite their identity being protected by law.

Elijah Cummings, chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee at the time, threatened to subpoena the White House administration if they did not release documents about the Ukraine investigation by October 4. On October 7, the House subpoenaed the Defense Department and the Office of Management and Budget for documents about how the Trump administration withheld $391 million in security aid for Ukraine.

The Trump administration withheld over $400 million in military aid to Ukraine in the hope of pressuring Ukraine to find information about the alleged hack of the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 election, said Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, on October 18. While the GOP had been backing Trump throughout the inquiry, this admission of quid pro quo by a Republican led to wavering support in the party.

On October 22, Bill Taylor, an American diplomat in Ukraine, testified that Trump held security aid and refused a meeting with Zelensky until he would publicly announce that he will Trump’s political rivals. He also said that based on the damage he saw from Russian-led forces in Ukraine, “more Ukrainians would undoubtedly die without the U.S. assistance.”

House Democrats said the impeachment inquiry will likely continue into the winter holidays. They have planned a series of high-profile public hearing to aid the case to remove Trump from office.