As Trump Confirms He Raised Biden With Ukrainian President, Pressure Builds for Impeachment
Washington: President Donald Trump acknowledged on Sunday that he accused a leading political rival of corruption during a phone call with Ukraine's president, as pressure intensified on reluctant Democrats to move quickly toward impeachment over allegations that Trump engaged in a brazen effort to enlist foreign help to aid his own reelection.
In public and in private, many Democrats suggested that evidence in recent days indicating that Trump pressed the Ukrainian government to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, and his administration's stonewalling of attempts by Congress to learn more, were changing their calculations about whether to seek his removal from office.
The influential chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, who has resisted such calls, said the House may now have 'crossed the Rubicon' in light of the new disclosures, and the administration's withholding of a related whistleblower complaint. A group of moderate freshman lawmakers who had been opposed to an impeachment inquiry said they were considering changing course, while other Democrats who had reluctantly supported one amplified their calls. Progressives, meanwhile, sharpened their criticisms of the party's leadership for failing to act.
The fast-moving developments prompted Speaker Nancy Pelosi to level a warning of her own to the White House: Turn over the secret whistleblower complaint by Thursday, or face a serious escalation from Congress.
In a letter to House Democrats, Pelosi never mentioned the word 'impeachment,' but her message appeared to hint at the possibility.
'If the administration persists in blocking this whistleblower from disclosing to Congress a serious possible breach of constitutional duties by the president, they will be entering a grave new chapter of lawlessness which will take us into a whole new stage of investigation,' Pelosi, D-Calif., wrote in the letter.
The allegations center on whether Trump pressured a vulnerable ally to take action to damage Biden at a critical moment, potentially using United States military aid as leverage. Ukraine has been fighting a war with Russia, and the Trump administration had temporarily been withholding a $250 million package of military funding. There have been no indications to this point, however, that Trump mentioned the aid money on the call.
Trump showed no sign of contrition Sunday, telling aides that Democrats were overplaying their hand on a matter voters would discount. Publicly, he worked to focus attention not on his own actions, but on those of Biden.
Nicholas Fandos, Jonathan Martin and Maggie Haberman c.2019 The New York Times Company