Adam Schiff, Opinion contributor
Published 3:15 a.m. ET Nov. 5, 2019
The Ukraine call was one piece of a larger operation to redirect US foreign policy to benefit Trump’s personal interests, not the national interest.
A little over one month has passed since the White House released the record of President Donald Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Americans read for themselves how President Zelensky sought more weapons critical to Ukraine’s defense, and how President Trump responded: “I would like you to do us a favor though” and laid bare his abuse of the power of the presidency.
From the call record alone, we have stark evidence that President Trump sought Ukraine’s help in the 2020 election by pressing that country to investigate a political opponent. Ukraine, which lies on the front line of Russian aggression, is financially, militarily and diplomatically dependent on the United States. The president’s corrupt pressure to secure its interference in our election betrayed our national security and his oath of office.
Trump’s personal, political interests
On Sept. 24, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced an impeachment inquiry and tasked the Intelligence, Foreign Affairs, and Oversight and Reform Committees to ascertain the extent of the president’s misconduct. In the past few weeks, and despite the White House’s continued obstruction, we have learned a great deal about what occurred from those with firsthand knowledge of the call, and those who witnessed the president’s actions preceding and following it.
What we have found, and what the American people will soon learn through the release of additional testimony transcripts and in public hearings, is that this is about more than just one call. From closed door interviews of current and former administration officials, text messages we have obtained, and public admissions by acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and President Trump himself, we now know that the call was just one piece of a larger operation to redirect our foreign policy to benefit Donald Trump’s personal and political interests, not the national interest.
The interviews we have conducted have been thorough, professional and fair, with over one hundred members from both parties eligible to attend — including nearly 50 Republicans — and equal time allotted for questioning to both Democratic and Republican members of Congress and staff. In line with best investigative practices first passed in Congress by the Republicans who now decry them, we have held these interviews in private to ensure that witnesses are not able to tailor their testimony to align with others at the expense of the truth.
Shining examples of patriotism
Over the past several weeks, dedicated, nonpartisan public servants have come forward to share what they know about the president’s misconduct based on what they witnessed over the course of months, describing and corroborating key details and events regarding U.S. foreign policy towards Ukraine. Nearly all have testified despite efforts by the White House to prevent them from telling their story. These career civil servants, diplomats and veterans of our armed services are American patriots and shining examples of what it means to defend and protect our Constitution.
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The witnesses have testified about the extent to which certain levers of government power were used in the service of the president’s political interests; whether congressionally approved security assistance to an ally was improperly withheld to give the president maximum leverage for his political demands; and whether a White House meeting, which Ukraine’s new president desperately sought as validation at home, was conditioned on Ukraine’s willingness to launch and publicly announce sham political investigations to discredit the unanimous conclusion that Russia interfered in the 2016 election and into President Trump’s potential political rival in 2020.
On Thursday, the House passed a resolution that lays the groundwork for the next phase of our inquiry. This week, we have begun releasing the transcripts of interviews conducted with current and former government officials, and we will soon begin public hearings.
Impeachment is correct remedy
Americans will hear directly from dedicated and patriotic public servants about how they became aware that U.S. foreign policy had been subverted for the president’s personal political interests, how they responded and how the president’s scheme jeopardizes our national security. These hearings will be different than those in the past, and, I believe, more illuminating. Instead of five-minute rounds of questioning, the format will provide equal and extended periods of questioning by professional staff or the chairman and ranking member of the Intelligence Committee to draw out key facts in a narrative format.
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While temperatures might run high and the temptation to turn this solemn process into a political circus could be irresistible to some, I hope that all members of Congress and the public will focus on the facts and the substance of the testimony, not on politics or partisanship.
For over a year, I resisted calls for an impeachment inquiry because impeachment was intended to be used only in extraordinary circumstances. But the Founders who devised our government understood that someday, a president might come to power who would fail to defend the Constitution or would sacrifice the country’s national security in favor of his own personal or political interests, and that Congress would need to consider such a remedy.
Tragically, that time has come.
Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., is chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Follow him on Twitter: @RepAdamSchiff
Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2019/11/05/impeachment-trump-redirected-foreign-policy-personal-benefit-column/4159426002/
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