House Readying Impeachment Status Report on Trump

Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., sits beside House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff of Calif., left, on Nov. 13, 2019, in the first public impeachment hearing of President Donald Trump’s efforts to tie U.S. aid for Ukraine to investigations of his political opponents. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

WASHINGTON (CN) Democrats undertaking the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump will report what they have found to date so far shortly after they return from Thanksgiving recess, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff announced Monday.

While the report may be a week away, Schiff wasted little time in his letter to fellow lawmakers before he chronicled attempts by the White House to obstruct the investigation.

“The fact that the president has uniformly instructed all executive branch agencies and senior officials to obstruct the investigation further demonstrates consciousness of guilt on the part of the president,” the California Democrat wrote.

Schiff noted one of the articles of impeachment against President Richard Nixon was obstruction of Congress, and each letter the committee sent along with its subpoenas during the investigation warned the prospective witness that refusal to comply would be used as an inference against the president.

Schiff said it is possible there will be other hearings in the inquiry, but noted the process will not be delayed by ongoing fights with the administration over witness testimony.

“The president has accepted or enlisted foreign nations to interfere in our upcoming elections, including the next one; this is an urgent matter that cannot wait if we are to protect the nation’s security and the integrity of our elections,” Schiff added.

The 12 witnesses who testified publicly before the Intelligence Committee in the last two weeks helped shed light on the Trump administration’s campaign to have the Ukrainian government announce an investigation of former Vice President Joe Biden and the 2016 presidential election.

At the same time the administration was pushing for investigations, contravening the recommendations of foreign-policy and national-security experts, Trump had also ordered a hold on a $400 million military aid package earmarked for Ukraine.

Witnesses who testified in the impeachment inquiry said the investigations were a prerequisite for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to secure a meeting at the White House. Others said that, while it was not explicitly stated, they understood the release of the aid package was also conditioned on the Ukrainians announcing the investigations.

The witnesses who appeared before the committee both in public and behind closed doors represent only a subset of the officials impeachment investigators had hoped to question, as the White House ordered others, including acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, to buck congressional subpoenas.

Schiff said the committee did not receive any documents it subpoenaed from the administration, a fact he said will weigh against Trump.

The House Intelligence report is a key step in the impeachment inquiry as its findings will aid the Judiciary Committee in the process of considering articles of impeachment against Trump.

The House is out of town on a week-long Thanksgiving recess and returns on Dec. 3. Though only scheduled to be in session for eight days in the month of December, it is possible Democratic leadership could add days to the schedule if they deem it necessary.

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