Off The Wire
Democrats accuse Trump of abusing power, obstructing impeachment probe
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democrats on Tuesday accused U.S. President Donald Trump of abusing power to win re-election in 2020, saying in a report that will form the basis of any formal impeachment charges that he solicited foreign interference, undermined national security, and ordered an unprecedented campaign to obstruct Congress.
The Democratic-led House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, which has spearheaded the impeachment probe, said Trump had used U.S. military aid and the prospect of a White House visit to compel his Ukrainian counterpart to “do his political bidding.”
“President Trump’s scheme subverted U.S. foreign policy toward Ukraine and undermined our national security in favor of two politically motivated investigations that would help his presidential reelection campaign,” the report said.
Democrats also accused Trump of an unprecedented effort to obstruct an impeachment inquiry that included categorical refusals to provide documents and testimony from his top advisers, unsuccessful attempts to block career government officials from testifying and the intimidation of witnesses.
“Donald Trump is the first President in the history of the United States to seek to completely obstruct an impeachment inquiry undertaken by the House of Representatives,” the report said.
Trump has denied any wrongdoing and accused Democrats of using the impeachment process to overturn the results of the 2016 presidential election. Opinion polls show Americans are bitterly divided over whether to impeach Trump.
White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham said Democrats led by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff had conducted a “one-sided sham process” that had failed to produce any evidence of wrongdoing by Trump.
“This report reflects nothing more than their frustrations. Chairman Schiff’s report reads like the ramblings of a basement blogger straining to prove something when there is evidence of nothing,” Grisham said.
The House Intelligence Committee is scheduled to meet at 6 p.m. EST (2300 GMT) to vote on its findings.
The matter will then go to the House Judiciary Committee, which will open its proceedings on Wednesday.
If the full House eventually votes to approve formal impeachment charges, a trial would be held in the Republican-led U.S. Senate, where a two-thirds majority of those present would be required to convict Trump and remove him from office.
At issue is whether Trump misused the power of his office to pressure Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, a leading contender for the Democratic nomination to face Trump in the 2020 election.
Lawmakers and the public have heard testimony from current and former officials that military aid was withheld from Ukraine and that a White House meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy was conditioned on Kiev conducting the probe as well as one into a debunked conspiracy theory about Ukraine interference in the 2016 U.S. election.
Reporting by Richard Cowan, David Morgan, Patricia Zengerle, Jonathan Landay, Susan Cornwell, Susan Heavey and Mark Hosenball in Washington; Writing by Paul Simao; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Grant McCool