Impeachment proceedings continue within Congress
On Tuesday, Oct. 15, the House of Representatives will reconvene and the impeachment inquiry launched by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi on Sept. 24, 2019 will continue. Until then, however, many updates, including high-profile depositions and subpoenas, await Americans.
Following an anonymous whistleblower complaint regarding a phone call President Donald Trump had in late July with the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, Pelosi announced the launch of a formal impeachment inquiry.
On the morning of Oct. 3, Pelosi received a letter from House Minority Leader Representative Kevin McCarthy imploring her to suspend this inquiry. Later that day, Pelosi formally responded in a letter.
According to The Washington Post, Pelosi wrote, “Our Founders were specifically intent on ensuring that foreign entities did not undermine the integrity of our elections,” and confirmed that she will continue with the impeachment inquiry.
Later on Oct. 3, Trump spoke to journalists gathered on the South Lawn of the White House. According to The Washington Post, in response to a reporter’s question regarding what Trump hoped President Volodymyr Zelensky [of Ukraine] would do, Trump answered, “If they were honest about it, they’d start a major investigation into the Bidens. It’s a very simple answer. They should investigate the Bidens.”
He then went on to publicly call on China to investigate the Biden family, saying, “China should start an investigation into the Bidens, because what happened to China is just about as bad as what happened with Ukraine.” This blatant encouragement of a foreign nation to interfere in the democratic elections of the United States has provided House Democrats with plenty of ammunition to use in their ongoing impeachment proceedings.
“[Encouraging a foreign investigation] endangers our elections, it endangers our national security, it ought to be condemned by every member of this body, Democrats and Republicans alike,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff said.
Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney, is under fire by House Democrats for potentially pursuing information against 2020 Democratic presidential candidates from the Ukrainian government. He has frequently claimed “attorney-client privilege” in an effort to not be required to divulge information about his conversations with Trump.
However, according to Politico, this reasoning may not be foolproof due to crime-fraud exceptions: “if there is evidence that a lawyer has been used to advance a crime or fraud, the [attorney-client] privilege vanishes.”
Kurt Volker, former United States special envoy for Ukraine who resigned on Sept. 27 after being named in the whistleblower complaint, testified before Congress behind closed doors on Oct. 3, providing the first of an inside look into Trump’s White House. Volker testified that he warned Giuliani that Ukrainian political figures may have been providing misinformation to Trump on former Vice President Biden and his son, Hunter Biden. After over eight hours of a deposition on Capitol Hill and providing 60 pages of documents and text messages regarding the Ukrainian ordeal, Representative Eric Swalwell (D-California) indicated that House Democrats believe there is “ample evidence” that Trump was working with Ukraine to obtain information about the Biden family.
On Oct. 2, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo admitted to being on the Ukraine phone call that has prompted this impeachment inquiry. Almost immediately, Representatives Cummings, Engel, and Schiff issued a subpoena deadline of Oct. 4 to Pompeo to produce Ukraine-related documents. Pompeo failed to meet this deadline. According to CNN, when interviewed during a press conference in Athens, Pompeo said, “We’ll obviously do all the things we are required to do by law,”—with no elaboration on the matter. According to Reuters, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Representative Engel has said, “They’re [Pompeo and the House of Representatives] in discussions that are ongoing and we’re hoping that he will comply,” but there has yet to be cooperation.
On Oct. 6, Andrew Bakaj, an attorney representing the still-anonymous whistleblower, announced that he is now representing “multiple” whistleblowers connected to the Ukrainian situation.
Mark Zaid, another attorney on the legal team representing the whistleblower, said that this second individual is confirmed to work within the intelligence community. The first whistleblower has recently come under fire from Trump, who remarked that they “got [his] phone conversation almost completely wrong,” according to The Hill.
Zaid has reported that the second whistleblower has “first hand knowledge that supported the first whistleblower,” which House Democrats expect to corroborate the original whistleblower complaint.
Information for this article was gathered from Politico, Reuters, The Washington Post, The Hill and CNN.