Schiff sched­ules meet­ing to OK re­lease of Ukraine report

Baltimore Sun - - NATION & WORLD - By Mike DeBo­nis and Karoun Demir­jian

WASHINGTON — House In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee Chair­man Adam Schiff, D-Calif., set a Tues­day meet­ing to ap­prove the re­lease of a report ex­pected to de­tail the panel’s find­ings on Pres­i­dent Donald Trump’s deal­ings with Ukraine.

In keep­ing with com­mit­tee rules, panel mem­bers are ex­pected to be able to re­view the report start­ing at 6 p.m. Mon­day, 24 hours be­fore the sched­uled meet­ing. It comes af­ter closed­door de­po­si­tions with 17 gov­ern­ment wit­nesses and a se­ries of tele­vised pub­lic hear­ings with sev­eral of those of­fi­cials.

The report is ex­pected to be for­warded to the House Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee for con­sid­er­a­tion of ar­ti­cles of i mpeach­ment against Trump. The Ju­di­ciary panel has sched­uled a Wed­nes­day hear­ing to con­sider the his­tor­i­cal and con­sti­tu­tional stan­dards for im­peach­ment.

The ex­pected re­lease of the report, com­ing 11 days af­ter the last pub­lic hear­ing con­ducted by the In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee, con­tin­ues a break­neck pace for House Democrats as they in­ves­ti­gate the po­ten­tial im­peach­ment of the pres­i­dent. While Schiff and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., have not com­mit­ted to any firm time­line, Tues­day’s meet­ing keeps the House on a tra­jec­tory to pos­si­bly ap­prove ar­ti­cles of im­peach­ment on the House floor be­fore Christ­mas — set­ting up a Se­nate trial on Trump’s re­moval early in the new year.

Demo­cratic staffers on the In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee worked t hrough t he Thanks­giv­ing re­cess com­plet­ing their report, while law­mak­ers spent the week at home in their districts. Their ex­act find­ings are not pub­licly known, but the report is ex­pected to lay out a case for Trump’s abuse of his pres­i­den­tial pow­ers — that he used the prom­ise of a White House meet­ing and the with­hold­ing of mil­i­tary aid ap­proved by Congress to com­pel Ukraine’s gov­ern­ment to launch po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated in­ves­ti­ga­tions into his po­lit­i­cal en­e­mies.

Schiff wrote in a let­ter to col­leagues last week that “the ev­i­dence of wrong­do­ing and mis­con­duct by the Pres­i­dent that we have gath­ered to date is clear and hardly in dis­pute.”

“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 wrote. “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 i mpeach­ment i s war­ranted.”

It is un­clear whether Repub­li­cans on the com­mit­tee, led by Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., will re­lease a report of their own. But they have put forth nu­mer­ous ar­gu­ments against im­peach­ment dur­ing the two weeks of pub­lic hear­ings — not­ing that the aid was ul­ti­mately de­liv­ered, for in­stance, and that Trump had good rea­son to ques­tion ram­pant cor­rup­tion in Ukraine and put strings on any U.S. aid.

While Schiff has not ruled out call­ing ad­di­tional wit­nesses should cir­cum­stances war­rant, the com­ple­tion of the In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee report marks a new phase of the im­peach­ment in­quiry — one where the in­ves­ti­ga­tory ba­ton is be­ing handed from Schiff to Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee Chair­man Jer­rold Nadler, D-N.Y. The Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee is ex­pected to use the In­tel­li­gence report, along with its own find­ings, as well as those of other in­ves­ti­gat­ing pan­els, to fash­ion ar­ti­cles of im­peach­ment.

Nadler on Fri­day gave Trump a Dec. 6 dead­line to de­cide whether he would take ad­van­tage of due process pro­tec­tions af­forded to him un­der House rules adopted in Oc­to­ber.

It’s un­likely that the pres­i­dent would at­tend Wed­nes­day, as Trump is sched­uled to be at a sum­mit with NATO al­lies out­side Lon­don. The Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee gave the White House un­til Sun­day evening to de­cide whether Trump or his at­tor­neys would at­tend, but the White House re­sponded ahead of the dead­line that it didn’t plan to par­tic­i­pate.

Associated Press con­trib­uted.

MATT MCCLAIN/WASHINGTON POST

In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee Chair­man Adam Schiff, D-Calif., left, talks with Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., on Nov. 13.

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