House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Tuesday it’s ‘really sad’ that ‘a president would perform an impeachable offense,’ as former Vice President Joe Biden issued his own call for the president’s impeachment if he doesn’t comply with requests for information from Congress.
Pelosi scheduled a press appearance for 5 pm, directly after her caucus meets on impeachment amid an outcry from rank-and-file members as well as senior Democrats, as she prepared to announce a formal impeachment inquiry.
She told a conference organized by the Atlantic magazine Tuesday afternoon: ‘It’s really sad to think that a president would perform an impeachable offense. It’s hard, you know, it’s hard to say we’ve gotten to that place. But what would be an impeachable offense would be that which is proven in an investigation,’ she said.
She spoke as party leaders discussed creating a select committee to pursue a formal impeachment – outside of the Judiciary Committee’s ongoing series of investigations.
The speaker’s comments came as the Democratic Party’s poll-leader in the presidential called on Trump to comply with congressional requests for information on Ukraine and other matters – declaring that Congress should impeach him if he does not comply.
Former Vice President Joe Biden Joe Biden will call on President Donald Trump to comply with congressional requests for information on Ukraine and other matters and call for impeachment if he won’t comply
If Trump continues to ‘flaunt’ congressional requests for information, lawmakers would have ‘no choice but to initiate impeachment,’ said Biden, who spent decades in the Senate. ‘That would be a tragedy, but a tragedy of his own making,’ he said.
Biden said pressuring a foreign leader to interfere in a U.S. election would constitute an ‘abuse of power,’ in remarks where he didn’t specifically mention the name of his surviving son Hunter, who Trump wants investigated due to his role serving on the board of a Ukrainian bank that was previously under investigation.
The former U.S. vice president spoke after the Capitol was buzzing with intrigue following a report from the intelligence inspector general on a whistleblower who supposedly raised concerns about Trump.
Trump speculated from the UN: ‘They say it’s a positive for me,’ then seethed: ‘How can you do this and you haven’t even seen the phone call?’
Meanwhile, House Intelligence chairman Rep. Adam Schiff, who first brought to light the existence of a whistleblower who filed a complaint that set off the current Ukraine imbroglio, wants to come forward.
‘We have been informed by the whistleblower’s counsel that their client would like to speak to our committee and has requested guidance from the Acting [Director of National Intelligence] as to how to do so. We‘re in touch with counsel and look forward to the whistleblower’s testimony as soon as this week,’ the California lawmaker and Pelosi ally said.
Acting DNI Joseph McGuire, who prevented an inspector general from revealing information about the whistleblower last week, is already set to appear for a tense hearing scheduled for Tuesday.
Amid efforts to unmask the whistle-blower, President Trump tweeted that he will release a ‘complete’ transcript Wednesday of his June call with the president of Ukraine.
The bipartisan leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee also invited the whistleblower to appear.
The high-powered remarks on impeachment follow more than a dozen Democrats coming out for impeachment since last week’s new revelations about Trump’s July call with the President of Ukraine.
Pelosi earned a laugh at the Atlantic festival when she said: ‘If that is the case, that the President of the United States would ask a foreign government to assist him in a political way, that would be – wrong,’ failing to drop the ‘impeachment’ word some had been anticipating.
Pelosi said that while the quid pro quo is not essential to determining it is an ‘impeachable offense’ but Trump’s withdrawal of the bipartisan military aid for Ukraine days before is a sequence. ‘The president’s words weigh tons. And just bringing up the election is bad enough,’ she said. ‘So this is not a good thing for democracy for the leader of the free world to be talking like that. And I don’t even know if there are any scruples involved.’
In another potent symbol, Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, the civil rights icon many Democrats consider the ‘conscience’ of their caucus, said in a floor speech that now is the time to impeach Trump.
Trump said Tuesday he has directed the release of the ‘complete’ transcript of his July phone call with the president of Ukraine that has let to an uproar and fueled calls by Democrats for his impeachment.
The president made his decision known during a day of meetings at the UN, just as former Vice President Joe Biden was set to speak and call for his impeachment if he would not hand over a whistle-blower’s complaint. Hours earlier, Trump admitted he had held up millions in security aid to Ukraine before holding the call.
‘I am currently at the United Nations representing our Country, but have authorized the release tomorrow of the complete, fully declassified and unredacted transcript of my phone conversation with President Zelensky of Ukraine,’ the president tweeted.
‘You will see it was a very friendly and totally appropriate call. No pressure and, unlike Joe Biden and his son, NO quid pro quo! This is nothing more than a continuation of the Greatest and most Destructive Witch Hunt of all time!’
Trump once again defended his ‘perfect’ call with the president of Ukraine Tuesday – and acknowledged holding up hundreds of millions in appropriated security funds for the nation.
But Trump denied holding back the money as a pressure tactic, saying he was perturbed that European powers should themselves ‘put up money.’
The president was asked at the UN why he decided to block the security aid just a week before he has admitted raising ‘corruption’ issues with the his Ukrainian counterpart.
‘I think it’s unfair that we put up the money. Then people called me, they said, oh, let it go and I let it go. But we paid the money. The money was paid. But very importantly, Germany, France, other countries should put up money and that’s been my complaint from the beginning,’ he said.
A new report reveals that Donald Trump ordered a military aid freeze of almost $400 million to Ukraine days ahead of his July phone call with Ukrainian President Voldymyr Zelensky
European nations also have provided support to Ukraine, and in July, weeks before Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukraine, provided $17.7 million Euros in humanitarian assistance.
Describing his phone call, which is now the subject of three congressional investigations as Democratic calls for his impeachment rise, Trump said: ‘It couldn’t have been nicer and even the Ukrainian government put out a statement that that was a perfect call, there was no pressure put on them whatsoever.’
‘But there was pressure put on with respect to Joe Biden. What Joe Biden did for his son, that’s something they should be looking at,’ Trump said – renewing his call for an investigation of his political rival.
The president once again ripped calls by Democrats for his impeachment and demands that his administration hand over a whistle-blower’s complaint.
‘I think it’s ridiculous. It’s a witch hunt. I’m leading in the polls. They have no idea how they stop me. The only way they can try is through impeachment,’ Trump vented.
‘This has never happened to a president before. There’s never been a thing like this before. It’s nonsense,’ he said.
Before announcing he would release it, Trump mentioned the transcript of the call, which he said he assumes the public will see.
‘When you see the call, when you see the readout of the call, which I assume you’ll see at some point, you’ll understand,’ he told reporters. That call was perfect. It couldn’t have been nicer. Even the Ukrainian government put out a statement that that was a perfect call.’
He continued his Monday denial of applying ‘pressure’ for Ukraine to investigate political rival former Vice President Joe Biden.
‘There was no pressure put on them whatsoever. But there was pressure put on with respect to Joe Biden.What Joe Biden did for his son, that’s something they should be looking at,’ he said.
Trump withheld almost $400 million in military aid from Ukraine just days before a July phone call where he is accused of pressuring the nation’s president to prosecute Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden.
The president ordering his staff to freeze the funds, which two people familiar with private conversations confirmed, is the latest revelation related to his conversation with Ukrainian President Voldymyr Zelensky.
New reports emerged last week that reveal a whistle-blower, who does not have direct knowledge of the leaders’ phone call this summer, alleged that Trump tried to pressure Zelensky into probing his 2020 political rival’s son Hunter Biden regarding his involvement in a natural gas firm in Ukraine.
Trump admitted he mentioned the Biden’s in his call with Zelensky, but said it was in regards to helping keep out foreign corruption from Ukraine.
In the days before that call, Trump ordered the aid to Ukraine be frozen, but Trump asserts he did nothing wrong and has denied that any requests for help in procuring damaging information about the former vice president and 2020 presidential candidate were tied to the aid freeze.
As Zelensky (pictured), who took office in May, deals with rebels in the east, aid from the U.S. has largely been viewed as a measure of Washignton’s determination to push back on Russian President Vladimir Putin. Trump denies that the aid freeze had anything to do with potentially procuring damaging information about Joe Biden
Reports emerged last week that a whistle-blower is alleging Trump’s July phone call with Zelensky included pressuring the Ukrainian leader to investigate Biden’s son Hunter for his involvement in a Ukrainian natural gas firm
The new information related to the conversation has moved more Democrats to call for impeachment – or at least say they would support the proceedings if the allegations were true.
Late Monday, an influential group of freshmen Democrats who served in the military and national security before winning office said Trump’s actions cut to the core of the country’s defenses. Their views, as centrist lawmakers from previously Republican-held districts where Trump has been popular, hold sway with party leadership.
The United States began providing military aid to the government of Ukraine shortly after Russia illegally annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in 2014.
With Ukraine’s new president, who assumed office in May, still grappling with separatist rebels in the east, the aid has long been viewed as a measure of Washington’s determination to push back against Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Democrats, and some Republicans, have urged the White House to be open about Trump’s actions and turn over the whistle-blower complaint. But with no new information from the administration forthcoming, more than a dozen Democrats, including some in House leadership, added their names to those calling for impeachment proceedings.
The sudden rush of activity shows the extent to which Trump’s call to the foreign leader, and his subsequent comments about the conversation, are raising further questions about whether the president improperly used his office to pressure another country as a way of helping his own reelection prospects.
‘These allegations are stunning, both in the national security threat they pose and the potential corruption they represent,’ the seven freshmen, who include a former Navy pilot, soldiers, officers and intelligence analysts, wrote in their Washington Post op/ed.
‘We do not arrive at this conclusion lightly,’ the lawmakers wrote.
The lawmakers include Reps. Gil Cisneros of California, Jason Crow of Colorado, Chrissy Houlahan of Pennsylvania, Elaine Luria of Virginia, Mikie Sherrill of New Jersey, Elissa Slotkin of Michigan and Abigail Spanberger of Virginia.
‘These new allegations are a threat to all we have sworn to protect. We must preserve the checks and balances envisioned by the Founders and restore the trust of the American people in our government. And that is what we intend to do.’
Maryland Sen. Chris Van Hollen, a Pelosi ally when he served with her in the House, said Tuesday: ‘President Trump’s actions are a threat to our democracy. His continued disregard for our Constitution and the democratic norms that guide our nation have caused irreparable harm to our country, our standing in the world, and to the Office of the Presidency.’
Congress on Monday pressed for full disclosure of a whistle-blower’s complaint about Trump and pushed the White House to release a transcript of Trump’s call with the Ukraine president.
The new allegations have brought around several lawmakers who have been reluctant to call for impeachment, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, to admit this might be the ‘tipping point’ that leads to the proceedings if the nature of the phone call aligns with the whistle-blower’s complaint
Trump insists the phone call was centered around keeping foreign corruption, including from U.S. citizens, out of Ukraine. But the administration is blocking Congress from gaining access to the whistle-blower complaint and transcript of the conversation
The president has acknowledged the phone call, and on Monday admitted that he didn’t want to give money to Ukraine if there were corruption issues.
‘It’s very important to talk about corruption,’ Trump told reporters as he opened meetings at the United Nations. ‘If you don’t talk about corruption, why would you give money to a country that you think is, is corrupt?’
Later Monday, Trump denied telling the Ukraine president that his country would only get U.S. aid if it investigated Biden’s son. ‘I didn’t do it,’ he said.
The fresh calls for impeachment proceedings come as House Democrats are heading into a closed-door meeting Tuesday with Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Pelosi and her leadership team on the various oversight committees are considering bringing forward a resolution that will put the House on the record on this matter, according to a Democratic leadership aide unauthorized to discuss the private talks. The aide was granted anonymity.
Still, Democrats remained divided on moving forward with an effort to impeach Trump. Pelosi has resisted calls for impeachment and is sticking with her position that Congress must not start formal proceedings unless the American public demands it.
However, Pelosi said Sunday that unless the administration provides more information to Congress by the scheduled Thursday hearing at the intelligence committee, its officials ‘will be entering a grave new chapter of lawlessness which will take us into a whole new stage of investigation.’
Trump has sought, without evidence, to implicate Biden and his son Hunter in the kind of corruption that has long plagued Ukraine.
Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire (pictured) has refused to share the complaint with lawmakers demanding it, citing presidential privilege. He is set to testify before the House on Thursday
Hunter Biden served on the board of a Ukrainian gas company at the same time his father was leading the Obama administration’s diplomatic dealings with Kyiv. Though the timing raised concerns among anti-corruption advocates, there has been no evidence of wrongdoing by either the former vice president or his son.
The matter is under new scrutiny following the whistle-blower’s mid-August complaint, which followed Trump’s July 25 call with Ukraine’s president. But the person who filed the complaint did not have firsthand knowledge of the call, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Lawmakers are demanding details of the complaint, but Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire has refused to share that information, citing presidential privilege.
He is set to testify Thursday before the House.
‘Let’s see the transcript,’ said Republican Senator Mitt Romney of Utah regarding Trump’s call with the Ukraine president.
The chairmen of the House intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight and Government Reform committees are threatening to subpoena Secretary of State Mike Pompeo if he does not produce information about whether Trump and his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, inappropriately tried to influence the Ukraine government for political gain.
Meanwhile, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer called on Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to investigate the whistle-blower’s complaint.
In a letter to McConnell, the New York senator said that the Republicans’ ‘see no evil, hear no evil’ attitude toward the president’s actions ‘is unacceptable and must change.’
Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida doesn’t think Trump’s actions are grounds for impeachment, but said he wouldn’t have called a foreign leader to discuss a rival.
‘I don’t think he should have raised the topic of Joe Biden with the Ukraine president,’ Rubio said.
McConnell said Monday the matter is best left behind closed doors in the classified setting of the intelligence committee, though he did push into the spotlight his own role in securing the Ukraine aid.
The Kentucky senator said he had been ‘personally pressuring’ the Trump administration this summer in calls to Pompeo and Defense Secretary Mark Esper to release the U.S. aid money.
Trump said Monday he may, or may not, release details or a transcript of the call but has stressed that foreign leaders should feel free to speak frankly with an American president without fear that the details of their conversations will later be disclosed.
Hunter Biden was hired by the Ukrainian gas company Burisma Holdings in April 2014, two months after Ukraine’s Russia-friendly former president was ousted by protesters and as Biden’s father was heavily involved in U.S. efforts to support the new pro-Western government. The move immediately raised concerns that the Ukrainian firm, whose owner was a political ally of the ousted president, was seeking to gain influence with the Obama administration.
Trump and Zelensky plan to meet on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly this week.