WASHINGTON (CN) – House lawmakers voted 421-0 Wednesday in favor of a non-binding resolution calling on President Donald Trump to release a whistleblower complaint to Congress, even as the classified document was already being distributed to a select group of lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
Only two lawmakers voted present. A similar measure passed unanimously in the Senate a day earlier.
Language in the House resolution initially called for the whistleblower’s complaint to be released immediately and forwarded to the appropriate congressional committees for review, but it also called for the whistleblower to be allowed to speak freely – and directly – with committee lawmakers.
It additionally called for the preservation of all records related to the complaint and demanded President Trump cease discrediting the whistleblower openly.
But with concerns over garnering Republican support for the measure, Pennsylvania Democrat Representative Mary Scanlon offered an amendment to the resolution, changing it to mirror the simplicity of the Senate’s bill: the complaint must be turned over to the appropriate intelligence committees and lawmakers must be able to review it under the protocols typically followed when reviewing any classified or sensitive information.
Not since 2010 – when the Inspector General for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence was first created – has a whistleblower complaint ever been withheld from the committee.
The whistleblower complaint spurred Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to formally launch an impeachment inquiry.
In a call record documenting Trump and Zelensky’s phone call, Trump explicitly states: “I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it.”
He continued: “There’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the attorney general would be great,” later adding he would have his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and U.S. Attorney General William Barr call Zelensky to “get to the bottom” of things.
“I’m sure you will figure it out,” Trump said.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., told reporters Wednesday morning that whether Republican colleagues agree that impeachment at this stage was necessary – matters little.
“We already know – and senior leadership in Congress knows – we couldn’t get an explanation for why military aid was being withheld. Now the president has given conflicting alibis,” Schiff said.
Though the chairman has been deeply critical of the president and the administration overall, before this week Schiff had been mostly cautious when discussing impeachment. He did not back calls for impeachment even at the height of former special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
But the whistleblower complaint has changed that.
“It is the most serious misconduct committed by the president so far and that’s after a long series of misconduct. It’s one thing when a candidate is seeking the help of a foreign power and makes use of that help as the Mueller report made clear he did. It’s even more serious when as president, he obstructs justice. It’s more serious when using the power of his office, he withholds vital military assistance to an ally against an adversary and then pressures them to get dirt for an election,” Schiff said.