House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), in a letter to other Democrats on Monday, said that his committee has started to draft a report in the impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump, but he said that he is open to new documents and testimony.
“What is left to us now is to decide whether [Trump’s] behavior is compatible with the office of the presidency,” he wrote in the letter, “and whether the Constitutional process of impeachment is warranted.”
Schiff then said he hopes that Republican lawmakers will go along with the Democrat-led impeachment inquiry. In a procedural vote on the inquiry last month, all Republicans and two Democrats voted against it.
Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) will now take over the next phase of the inquiry, Schiff said in the letter.
“I urge all members to find guidance from our oath of office to protect and defend the Constitution,” he wrote. “For the people, we must defend our Democracy.”
House Democrats have alleged that Trump abused his oath of office by withholding military aid to Ukraine in exchange for investigations into a political opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden. Ukrainian officials, including President Volodymyr Zelensky and Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko, have said there was no quid pro quo or bribery, as Democrats have alleged. Trump also released a transcript of the call.
Trump and other White House officials have denied the allegations as well, with the president calling it another witch hunt by Democrats.
In the past two weeks, several State Department and National Security Council officials offered their testimonies to the House Intelligence Committee. Some claimed there was a quid pro quo campaign at play in Ukraine. A key witness, U.S. Ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, said “the answer” to the quid pro quo question “is yes.”
However, he later contradicted himself by saying that President Trump told him: “I want nothing. I don’t want to give them anything and I don’t want anything from them. I want Zelensky to do the right thing.” He said Trump never told him that the United States was withholding military aid for investigations. Vice President Mike Pence also denied having had a conversation with Sondland about the Bidens, Burisma Holdings, or military aid as the ambassador claimed during the testimony.
Hunter Biden, the former vice president’s son, was a Burisma Holdings board member when his father was in office. The elder Biden in 2018 was captured on video bragging about forcing the firing of a former Ukrainian prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, who was reportedly investigating Burisma’s founder. Obama administration officials had accused Shokin of corruption, but in a sworn statement, Shokin said Biden pushed him out due to his investigation.
Hunter Biden has denied allegations of corruption but told ABC News in an October interview that it was “poor judgment on my part.” He left Burisma earlier this year.