The Democrat-led U.S. House of Representatives’ Intelligence Committee has approved a 300-page report that concluded President Donald Trump abused his power of office by pressuring a foreign government to investigate his political opponent.
Taking place behind closed doors, the vote completes the fact-finding phase of the impeachment proceedings and sends the document for consideration to the House Judiciary Committee.
Starting on December 4, the Judiciary Committee will begin examining evidence contained in the report and decide whether to draft articles of impeachment, or formal charges against the president.
“The evidence is clear that President Trump used the power of his office to pressure Ukraine into announcing investigations into his political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, and a debunked conspiracy theory that it was Ukraine, not Russia, that interfered in the 2016 election,” the committee said in a statement. “These investigations were designed to benefit his 2020 presidential reelection campaign.”
House lawmakers have focused on events leading up to, during, and after a July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
Trump had withheld $391 million of military aid to Ukraine ahead of the call and during the discussion prodded Zelenskiy to investigate Biden and his son, Hunter, among other requested concessions.
Trump has called the impeachment probe a “hoax” and the congressional hearings “a kangaroo court.”
The Democrats’ report is divided into two sections – one is called the “scheme” of the Ukraine affair and the other “obstruction.”
According to the report, the “scheme” was implemented with the “knowledge and approval” of senior administration figures, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, outgoing Energy Secretary Rick Perry, and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney.
The second part accuses the Trump administration of not providing thousands of pages of requested documents to congressional investigators. The White House also didn’t allow witnesses, in particular those with first-hand knowledge of Trump’s actions, to testify and instead blocked their testimony.
The report doesn’t contain specific articles of impeachment.
In a statement, White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham dismissed both the report and the investigation led by Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (Democrat-California).
"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," she said.
Trump has declined to directly, or indirectly through legal counsel, take part in the second phase of the impeachment proceedings.
If the full House eventually votes to approve formal impeachment charges, a trial would be held in the Republican-led Senate, where a two-thirds majority of those present would be required to convict and remove Trump from office.