Central to the Intelligence Committee’s findings is that Trump compromised U.S. national security when he held back diplomatic engagement and congressionally approved military aid from Kyiv, until Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky committed to publicly announce he was launching investigations into a debunked conspiracy theory surrounding a hacked Democratic National Committee server and of the son of former vice president Joe Biden, who is running to replace Trump in 2020.
Biden’s son Hunter Biden sat on the board of Ukrainian energy company Burisma for five years. Before his arrival, Burisma’s owner had come under investigation for corruption.
Democratic leaders say they have overwhelming support in their ranks for articles dealing with the core of Trump’s conduct regarding Ukraine, two Democratic leadership aides said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to talk candidly.
The aides, who are familiar with internal discussions, also expect at least one article concerning the Trump administration’s obstruction of Congress, although it’s not known how broad those charges will be.
Aides cautioned that the situation remains fluid and that discussions about the articles are ongoing.
Several members of the Judiciary panel are also eager to make reference in the articles to the president’s alleged efforts to obstruct justice in former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s Russia probe, arguing that Trump has repeatedly solicited or welcomed foreign interference in his election bids.
Speaking with reporters Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) insisted that Russia was an integral factor in the president’s alleged misconduct regarding Ukraine, because when Trump decided to withhold military aid to Kyiv, it was the Kremlin that benefited.
“Russia. It’s about Russia,” Pelosi said. “All roads lead to Putin. Understand that.”
But Democrats have yet to commit to including articles of impeachment that directly address Trump’s alleged ties to Russia that were detailed in the Mueller report, or settle on how they will organize and draft their various grievances against the president. Pelosi refused to answer reporters’ questions about plans for specific articles Thursday, as well, noting only that impeachment was now an imperative.
“I’m really sorry the president made this necessary,” Pelosi said. “If we do not act on this, the message to any future president . . . would be, ‘You can do whatever you want.’ ”
Leading Democrats, including Pelosi and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), already have identified Trump’s alleged effort to leverage the power of his office to secure personally advantageous political favors as bribery, and an abuse of office that rises to the “high crimes and misdemeanors” level of an impeachable offense. But the House Intelligence Committee’s report on the findings from its impeachment probe stopped short of recommending the Judiciary Committee pursue specific charges.
Despite Democratic members’ repeated references to how Trump’s efforts in Ukraine compromised and undermined U.S. national security, there is no appetite for trying to impeach Trump on grounds of treason, the third specific act listed in the Constitution’s definition of impeachable offenses, according to people familiar with plans.
But members have been very clear that they believe Trump is guilty of obstruction of Congress, defined by his categorical refusal to allow his administration to comply with the impeachment investigation or its subpoenas, and that rises to the level of an impeachable offense.
On Wednesday, a Judiciary panel featured legal experts who argued that could be considered obstruction of justice, as well.
There is now considerable pressure on the Judiciary Committee to hash out a final list of articles — and to do it quickly, so the panel can wrap up its work in time to allow the full House to impeach Trump before Christmas.
Pelosi gave her official blessing to Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) to take those steps Thursday morning, in an address stating she had asked him “to proceed with articles of impeachment.” Less than two hours later, the Judiciary Committee announced that it would host lawyers from the House Intelligence Committee on Monday to present the official findings from their report.