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Democrats unveil impeachment report

WASHINGTON — House Democrats unveiled a report Tuesday they say shows abuse of office by President Donald Trump in his dealings with Ukraine and an alleged attempt to enlist a foreign government to interfere with the upcoming presidential election.

The report was compiled by the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees after a months’ long investigation into the Trump administration, which withheld military aid to Ukraine while the president sought an investigation into a Democratic political rival.

“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,” Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said in a statement that accompanied the report.

“These investigations were designed to benefit his 2020 presidential reelection campaign,” he said.

Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, said “these outrageous abuses of power clearly constitute impeachable offense as outlined by the Founding Fathers.”

But the White House issued a statement immediately dismissing the report.

“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. This report reflects nothing more than their frustrations,” said White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham.

Overturning an election

Republicans on the Intelligence Committee released their own report Monday, saying Trump never intended to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy when he asked for “a favor” and that the evidence did not show the president used $400 million in military aid as leverage to get Zelenskiy to publicly announce those investigations.

Republicans said the impeachment hearings were driven by partisanship and sought to reverse the 2016 election results.

“Democrats have relied on smears, hearsay and presumption to build their false narrative,” said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.

The Intelligence Committee will forward the majority report to the Judiciary Committee, which has the authority to draft articles of impeachment. If approved, they would trigger a Senate trial and possible removal of Trump from office.

The Judiciary Committee will hold a public hearing Wednesday to discuss the constitutional framework of impeachment. The president, through his lawyer, has declined to participate.

‘Unpatriotic’ move

Trump, at a NATO summit in London, denounced Democrats as unpatriotic as the House prepared for the next public phase of the impeachment process while he was overseas meeting with world leaders.

“I think it’s very unpatriotic for the Democrats to put on a performance where they do that. I do. I think it’s a bad thing for our country,” Trump told reporters at a NATO news conference.

In Washington, the Judiciary Committee is expected to use the report as a basis for articles of impeachment against Trump. The committee could still accept additional testimony and depositions that are tied up in legal battles.

The public hearing on Wednesday will provide testimony from four scholars on past impeachment proceedings, which have occurred only three times in the nation’s history.

None of the presidents who were subject of House impeachment hearings or votes — Andrew Johnson, Richard Nixon or Bill Clinton — were ever removed from office. Nixon resigned before a full House vote.

The fast-track impeachment process underway is expected to result in a vote in the full House before the holiday recess. The vote is also expected to galvanize the current partisan divide in the lower legislative chamber.

Not one Republican member has called for Trump’s impeachment, and several Democrats in moderate congressional districts have balked at the process.

Nevada divided on question

In Nevada, only Titus has said Trump should be impeached. Democratic Reps. Susie Lee and Steven Horsford, have supported the impeachment inquiry.

Rep. Mark Amodei, Nevada’s lone Republican, has voted with party leaders against the process.

Titus said the report explains in “startling detail the months long effort by President Trump to use the powers of the presidency to solicit foreign interference in the 2020 election.”

The report also accuses the president of obstructing the House’s constitutional authority to conduct an investigation and ordering officials not to comply with subpoenas for testimony and documents.

During testimony before the Intelligence Committee, State Department witnesses said the president’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, was running a shadow policy operation in Ukraine that ran counter to policies advocated by the U.S. government.

Those witnesses also said Giuliani was pressuring Zelenskiy to announce an investigation publicly, and that Giuliani was seeking the probes on behalf of the president.

The White House blocked several witnesses from testifying before House investigators.

Trump has complained that the hearings were held behind closed doors and did not allow his lawyers a chance to interview or cross-examine witnesses.

Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., offered the White House an opportunity to participate in the Wednesday hearing, an invitation declined by White House counsel Pat Cipollone.

Contact Gary Martin at gmartin@reviewjournal.com or 202-662-7390. Follow @garymartindc on Twitter.

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