- The Washington Times - Monday, November 25, 2019

The House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry is preparing a report to deliver soon after Thanksgiving to the Judiciary Committee for consideration of articles of impeachment against President Trump.

Rep. Adam B. Schiff, the California Democrat leading the impeachment effort, announced the timeline in a letter Monday to his Democratic colleagues.

He said the decision to draft articles of impeachment had not been made but he stressed that two weeks of public hearings had confirmed that Mr. Trump abused his Oval Office power.

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“The evidence of wrongdoing and misconduct by the President that we have gathered to date is clear and hardly in dispute. What is left to us now is to decide whether this behavior is compatible with the office of the presidency, and whether the constitutional process of impeachment is warranted,” wrote Mr. Schiff, chairman of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence that has conducted the inquiry.

The plan to deliver the report as soon as Congress returns next week from its Thanksgiving break is in line with the fast-track schedule Democrats hoped would get to an impeachment vote before Christmas.

The report will outline a case for Mr. Trump committing bribery and obstructing Congress’s investigation, though it will be up to the Judiciary Committee to determine the next step.

Democrats have argued that Mr. Trump dangling a prized White House visit and nearly $400 million of military aid in front of the Ukraine president to entice him to launch a corruption probe targeting former Vice President Joseph R. Biden and his son Hunter, which theoretically would help Mr. Trump’s reelection campaign.

In the letter, Mr. Schiff said two weeks of public hearings had removed any doubt of wrongdoing by Mr. Trump. He also said it was the second time Mr. Trump sought foreign interference in a U.S. election, apparently referring allegations of Trump-Russia collusion in 2016.

“Over the course of our inquiry, we have uncovered a monthslong effort in which President Trump again sought foreign interference in our elections for his personal and political benefit at the expense of our national interest,” Mr. Schiff said. “As the evidence conclusively shows, President Trump conditioned official acts — a White House meeting desperately desired by the new Ukrainian president and critical U.S. military assistance — on Ukraine announcing sham, politically motivated investigations that would help President Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign.”

Mr. Trump has denied any wrongdoing and accused Democrats of targeting him with an unfair partisan inquisition.

Mr. Schiff pushed back against Republican arguments that it is too close to the 2020 election to try to remove the president and voters should be allowed to make that choice.

“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,” he said.

The impeachment inquiry stems from a July 25 phone call in which Mr. Trump asked President Volodymyr Zelensky for a “favor” in investigating Mr. Biden and other corruption allegations. A whistleblower, who is believed to be a CIA official assigned to the White House, accused the president of abusing his power for personal gain on the call, including withholding U.S. military aid from Ukraine to force the investigation.

A rough transcript of the call did not show a quid pro quo with the investigation request, but Democrats argue the threat was understood and part of an ongoing pressure campaign of “shadow” foreign policy conducted by Mr. Trump’s private lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani.

Mr. Trump wanted an investigation into Hunter Biden in 2014 landing a high-paying job on the board of Ukraine natural gas company Burisma Holdings while his father was the point man for Obama White House policy in the country, which is notorious for corruption, especially in the energy industry.

The elder Mr. Biden recently boasted of getting Ukraine’s chief prosecutor fired in spring 2016 by threatening to block a $1 billion U.S. loan guarantee. The prosecutor was widely viewed as not doing enough to combat corruption. But the prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, also was looking into corruption allegations against Burisma and the Ukraine oligarch running the company.

Mr. Trump also wanted Kyiv to look into Ukraine meddling in the 2016 election and a missing Democratic National Committee server. The server was hacked by Russia during the 2016 campaigns and an American cybersecurity company called CrowdStrike examined the server to probe the hack but the server disappeared before it could be handed over to the FBI.

Mr. Trump subscribes to an unsubstantiated theory that the server ended up in Ukraine.

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