House Intelligence Committee Releases Report On Its Phase Of The Impeachment Inquiry

Dec 3, 2019
Originally published on December 3, 2019 7:38 pm
Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

House Democrats, led by Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff, have released a 300-page report on their findings in the ongoing impeachment investigation of President Trump. As expected, the report concludes that the president used the power of his office to solicit interference from Ukraine to benefit his 2020 reelection. The House Intelligence Committee has voted to approve the report. And it will be sent to the House Judiciary Committee, which will use it to write possible articles of impeachment. NPR congressional correspondent Susan Davis joins us now.

Hey, Sue.

SUSAN DAVIS, BYLINE: Hey, Ailsa.

CHANG: So far, you know, this investigation, it's largely played out on live national TV before the House Intelligence Committee. Are there really any surprises left to reveal in this report?

DAVIS: No major surprises, but there is some new information in the report. One nugget included in here is that the committee has obtained phone records - they weren't clear how they obtained them - involving players in this story, including Rudy Giuliani, the president's personal lawyer. Schiff says the phone records further corroborate the timeline of events and that there was direct coordination with the White House.

Schiff also made clear and the report makes clear that they're not done on their end of the investigation. Schiff told reporters today he thinks there's enough to move forward into the judiciary committee process. But intel is going to keep investigating things, specifically things like when the timeline occurred, whether it's - whether the actions of the Trump administration started earlier than we believe. And he also said they could send further supplemental reports to the judiciary committee.

The big top-line takeaway is what we already know. It concludes that President Trump pressured Ukrainian President Zelenskiy - and with the help of figures in his administration - to investigate Joe Biden's family. It concludes the president used pressure tactics, including withholding a White House meeting and U.S. military assistance. We should note that Republicans point out that, you know, you can't impeach some - they argue you can't impeach the president for things that didn't ultimately happen because the president did ultimately meet with Zelenskiy, though not at the White House...

CHANG: Right. But Democrats say that's not the point.

DAVIS: ...Exactly - and that the assistance was released but only after Congress became aware of that whistleblower complaint.

The report also accuses the president of obstructing the congressional investigation. And it makes a point to name-check three senior administration officials - acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Rick Perry, who was Energy secretary at the time - saying it was all, quote, "undertaken with their knowledge and approval."

CHANG: Yeah. And those are the three people - or three of some people that Congress has not heard from at all during this entire impeachment inquiry. The fact that they haven't testified still leaves large missing pieces in this story, doesn't it?

DAVIS: Yeah. I mean, there's a lot of players in this story that Congress hasn't heard from. You know, 12 current or former administration officials refused to testify, including 10 under - who defied subpoenas. Notably, the president, speaking to reporters today, said he was open to having people like Mulvaney and Pompeo and Perry testify but not in the House. He said he would be open to having fresh testimony if there is a Senate trial. It's a reminder that there's still, you know, some potential wild cards that could play out in this impeachment process. And we could still find out more information as it moves forward.

CHANG: So does this report from the intel committee offer any clues, any clarity on what kind of articles of impeachment we might see come out of the judiciary committee?

DAVIS: The report makes a point to break down into two sections; one that involves the president's alleged misconduct surrounding the requests for those investigations and the president's obstruction of the investigation into that conduct. That's a pretty clear roadmap for possible articles of impeachment.

CHANG: OK.

DAVIS: Schiff has been the most clear that he thinks that an article of impeachment on obstruction is very likely to be one of those articles. How exactly they write that is now up to the House Judiciary Committee. It's the only committee that has the power to draft articles of impeachment.

CHANG: All right. And the judiciary committee will be holding a hearing tomorrow with legal scholars on what constitutes impeachable offenses. There could be more hearings after that. Are lawmakers still saying that they want to wrap this all up by the end of the year?

DAVIS: They are. I mean, Schiff said today he believed that they have what they need to move forward now. Judiciary isn't necessarily expected to do more investigative work. They're not hearing from more fact witnesses. One thing that the Democrats are going to need to make sure of before they move forward is if they have the votes to do it on their own. One thing this report has made clear, including the Republican prebuttal to the report - there are no defections within the Republican Party, and Democrats are going to have to do it on their own.

CHANG: That's NPR's congressional correspondent Susan Davis.

Thanks, Sue.

DAVIS: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.