President Donald Trump speaks to the media before leaving the White House in Washington.
Mary F. Calvert Reuters
A month ago, President Donald Trump released a summary of his connection with the President of Ukraine at the center of the House impeachment inquiry into him.
Trump hoped to show transparency and stifle concerns about his interaction with President Volodymyr Zelensky, whom he called "perfect." Instead, avoiding political pitfalls has only become harder for Trump.
Since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced an impeachment investigation on September 24, a day before the White House released the call transcript, House Democrats have examined whether Trump has abused his power to influence the 2020 elections. Lawmakers focused on Trump's efforts to get Ukraine to investigate his political rival Joe Biden and his son Hunter, and whether the authorities linked an investigation to the release of US military aid to Ukraine.
While House committees summon senior government officials and sometimes hear explosive testimony from witnesses, the White House has refused to cooperate with the investigation, calling it an illegitimate political exercise. Key figures in the saga, from Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani to acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, have not yet met the House's subpoena for documents.
At the same time, other aspects of Trump's foreign and domestic policy only increased the pressure he faced during the most politically dangerous month of his presidency. The president's decision to withdraw US forces from northern Syria has provoked more criticism from Republican lawmakers than he has ever faced at any time during the impeachment investigation. Trump also announced that he will host the G-7 world leaders' summit at his Florida club next year – a decision he quickly reversed after being widely accused of trying to get rich.
A flurry of events has occurred in Washington in the month since the Trump administration released the transcript of the call in Ukraine. Here are some of the biggest moments so far, just in the fourth serious impeachment investigation against an American president.
The call and the complaint
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) address reporters during Pelosi's weekly press conference at the US Capitol in Washington, October 2, 2019.
Jonathan Ernst Reuters
Reports on the content of an intelligence community complaint about Trump's conduct helped pressure more House Democrats to support impeachment processes. The call summary – which was not an official transcript – gave the first real glimpse of what Trump did.
Referring to former Vice President Biden's efforts to remove a Ukrainian prosecutor that the international community found corrupt, Trump told Zelensky: "There is a lot of talk about Biden's son, which Biden interrupted the prosecution and many people want to find out. about that, so what you can do with (US Attorney General William Barr) would be great. "
The following day, September 26, the House Intelligence Committee issued the complaint. He raised concerns that Trump was "using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 US elections." He not only pointed to the president's liaison with his Ukrainian counterpart, but also alleged White House efforts to cover up the records of the conversation. It also detailed Giuliani's efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate the Bidens.
Earlier this year, the Trump government delayed about $ 400 million in essential military aid for Ukraine, and lawmakers questioned whether the White House did so to warrant a bid investigation. Following the release of the call notes and the denunciation, Trump and his Republican allies pointed to the fact that the call did not confirm an obvious quid pro quo, or one action in exchange for the other.
White House refuses to cooperate
The House Intelligence Committee, working with the Oversight and Oversight Committees, led the investigation into Trump's conduct. Democrat panels have been active in recent weeks.
House Democrats have issued 14 subpoenas to registrations since Pelosi announced the inquiry, according to an NBC News. Recipients of the subpoena include Pompeo, Mulvaney, Giuliani, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and outgoing energy secretary Rick Perry – none of whom sent the requested documents to legislators.
Earlier this month, White House lawyer Pat Cipollone wrote a letter to the Democratic chiefs of the three House committees saying the government would not cooperate with the impeachment inquiry. He called the process "unconstitutional and unfounded efforts to overthrow the democratic process", arguing that lawmakers want to undo the results of the 2016 election.
Despite the White House's position and the State Department's resistance to its officials, the House still heard some important witnesses. Since Pelosi announced the inquiry, the committees have held six closed-door statements and two transcribed private interviews, according to NBC.
The House spoke with officials including Kurt Volker, former special envoy for Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, former US ambassador to Ukraine, and Gordon Sondland, US ambassador to the European Union. The most explosive testimony to date has come from Bill Taylor, the charge of business at the US embassy in Ukraine.
Taylor said Sondland said Trump had withheld military aid until the public announcement of an investigation into energy company Burisma Holdings (where Hunter Biden served as a board member) and alleged Ukrainian interference in the 2016 elections.
The House temporarily postponed further interviews this week amid the funeral of Rep. Elijah Cummings, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, who died last week at the age of 68.
Republicans protect Trump
Senator Lindsey Graham holds a press conference at the US Capitol in Washington, October 24, 2019.
Siphiwe Sibeko Reuters
Trump's sometimes scattered Republican defense focused more on criticizing how the Democrats conducted the investigation than on justifying the president's actions. The Republican Party asked witnesses to testify openly and urged the House to conduct a vote to formally initiate impeachment proceedings.
Earlier this month, Pelosi said the House would not officially vote at the beginning of the investigation.
Republican criticism of the process has only increased in recent days. Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina and Trump's ally, presented a resolution on Thursday alleging that Democrats violated Trump's due process by conducting closed-door interviews. At least 40 other Republican Party senators (out of 53) co-sponsored.
On Monday, the House voted against a Republican measure to censor Deputy Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Commission. The Republican Party accused him of misleading the public about the inquiry.
The most disturbing protest came Wednesday, when more than two dozen House Republicans entered a safe room at the Capitol in a show of criticism of the impeachment process. Their actions delayed the testimony of Laura Cooper, deputy assistant secretary of defense of Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia. (A handful of Republicans who entered the safe room already had access to testimonials as members of the three relevant committees.)
Meanwhile, some of the White House's efforts to defend itself against the investigation led to even more criticism against the government. Trump called the investigation "lynching" on Monday – sparking reaction from Democrats and Republicans because the word invokes the country's history of racist killings. Even so, some Republicans defended his use of the term: Graham called the investigation "lynching in every way."
Trump also classified the alleged Republicans of Never Trump – people with Republican tendencies who have always criticized the president – as "human scum" this week.
Mulvaney made another mess for the Trump government to clean up on October 17, when it apparently admitted that the White House provided military aid to Ukraine while seeking an investigation into whether the country interfered in the 2016 elections. It was against the White House denial of one quid pro quo.
Later that day Mulvaney tried to clear his comments by saying that "there was absolutely nothing between Ukrainian military aid and any investigation into the 2016 elections."
The complicated politics of impeachment
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, announces a formal impeachment inquiry by US President Donald Trump on September 24, 2019 in Washington, DC.
Mandel Ngan AFP Getty Images
As Democrats move forward with the impeachment inquiry, this puts some Democrats and Republicans in a political bond – depending in part on what areas of the country they represent.
All but seven House Democrats, including a handful of legislators who overcame districts that voted for Trump in 2016, supported the impeachment inquiry. An independent, Representative Justin Amash of Michigan, supported the investigation. No House Republican has endorsed him.
Public support for the impeachment inquiry has increased over the past month. About 53% of respondents in recent polls say they support the House's initial lawsuit, compared with 42% who don't, according to an average of FiveThirtyEight surveys. On September 25, about half of respondents opposed an impeachment probe.
About 48 percent of respondents in recent polls say they support Trump's impeachment or dismiss him – that the Republican-held Senate would have to decide if it should vote to effectively prosecute him for abuses of power. .
But Research suggests that impeachment may be a complicated proposition in the battlefield states that will determine the 2020 election. Polls explain why Pelosi took a deliberate step in the president's investigation.
Before announcing the impeachment inquiry, the mayor repeatedly called the question …
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