By: Kate Rogers, News Editor
This week, the House of Representatives issued their first subpoena for an impeachment investigation led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on President Trump. The investigation is taking place after the White House released a record of his phone call with Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, according to the Washington Post. If the Trump Administration provides the evidence requested, the Democrats may have a case against the President. However, if the administration does not, there may still be a case based on obstruction.
A whistleblower from the White House issued a complaint concerning this phone call due to the call’s subject matter and that it was conducted on a specific line that not all of the administration has access to records of. The report from this source claimed that the President was abusing his power to convince foreign countries to interfere in the upcoming election, according to CNN.
According to the whistleblower, this has been in the works for several months.
If the report is true, President Trump has violated several laws. Democrats in the House have begun looking for witnesses and evidence to support the whistleblower’s claims. According to the New York Times, the first person they summoned to provide them with information is Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. They say that more subpoenas and a possible impeachment hearing will come next week. The process of finding evidence will not be public for the most part, “to speed up the fact-finding process and avoid the political implications of public hearing,” according to the New York Times.
During the phone call in question, President Zelenskiy confirmed that Ukraine wanted to buy weapons from the U.S. After this, President Trump asked a “favor” that an investigation be done on Vice President Joe Biden, according to NPR. He then said that he would have his attorneys follow up with this investigation according to CNN. This seems to coincide with the report that tampering with the election is being attempted, as Vice President Biden is a possible candidate for the 2020 election.
President Trump has defended the call, saying there was nothing wrong with it and that it was just a “perfect” call with a foreign dignitary. He called the investigation Democrats a “witch hunt” on his Twitter.
The White House has been using executive privilege as an excuse to hide witnesses and records, including past records of conversations the President had, from the rest of the government. This is why information on past dealings with Russia that have been suspect for the President’s entire time in office has not been available for investigation. It is not clear yet why these dealings with Ukraine specifically have begun the process of impeachment according to NPR.
So far, according to the New York Times, the subpoena issued has required the following: A full record of the call with President Zelenskiy, as well as a list of everyone who listened to or read transcripts of the call and any records concerning it. Any information on investigations done by Rudy Giuliani, President Trump’s lawyer, on Vice President Biden or any interactions with Ukraine. Records of the President’s administration keeping security aid from Ukraine. Depositions from officials who were named in the whistleblower report as well as others who are connected to policy work in Ukraine— one of these officials, United States special envoy to the Ukraine Kurt D. Volker, stepped down shortly after.
A meeting with the whistleblower is also being attempted by the Intelligence Committee.
According to Fox News, President Trump has mentioned that this impeachment investigation may stall legislation, specifically new gun laws. Pelosi disagrees, saying that the two things could proceed at the same time. The Senate has passed temporary government funding to prevent a government shutdown during these proceedings.