House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., gives final remarks during a hearing where former White House national security aide Fiona Hill, and David Holmes, a U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, testified before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 21, 2019, during a public impeachment hearing of President Donald Trump’s efforts to tie U.S. aid for Ukraine to investigations of his political opponents. (Bill O’Leary/Pool Photo via AP)

House panel to vote on Ukraine report as Trump mulls defence

Democrats are aiming for a final House vote by Christmas

The House impeachment inquiry enters a pivotal stage this week, with investigators planning a vote Tuesday to approve their report making the case for President Donald Trump’s removal from office as he decides whether to mount a defence before a likely Senate trial.

A draft report will be available for members of the House Intelligence Committee to view in a secure location before their planned vote on Tuesday, which would send their findings to the House Judiciary Committee to consider actual charges.

Majority Democrats say the report will speak for itself in laying out possible charges of bribery or “high crimes and misdemeanours,” the constitutional standard for impeachment. Republicans want Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, chairman of the Intelligence Committee, to testify, though they have no power to compel him to do so, as they try to cast the Democratic-led inquiry as skewed against the Republican president.

“If he chooses not to (testify), then I really question his veracity in what he’s putting in his report,” said Rep. Doug Collins, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee.

“It’s easy to hide behind a report,” Collins added. “But it’s going to be another thing to actually get up and have to answer questions.”

Schiff has said “there’s nothing for me to testify about,” that he isn’t a “fact” witness and that Republicans are only trying to “mollify the president, and that’s not a good reason to try to call a member of Congress as a witness.”

READ MORE: Former president of Ukraine reveals details of 2017 meeting with Giuliani

Coming after two weeks of public testimony, the findings of the House Intelligence Committee report are not yet publicly known. But the report is expected to mostly focus on whether Trump abused his office by withholding military aid approved by Congress as he pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to launch investigations into Trump’s political rivals.

Democrats also are expected to include an article on obstruction of Congress that outlines Trump’s instructions to officials in his administration to defy subpoenas for documents or testimony.

Democrats are aiming for a final House vote by Christmas, which would set the stage for a likely Senate trial in January.

“I do believe that all evidence certainly will be included in that report so the Judiciary Committee can make the necessary decisions that they need to,” said Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., a member of both the Intelligence and Judiciary committees.

She said Democrats had not yet finalized witnesses for the upcoming Judiciary hearings and were waiting to hear back from Trump on his plans to present a defence.

“If he has not done anything wrong, we’re certainly anxious to hear his explanation of that,” Demings said.

The Judiciary Committee’s first hearing is Wednesday. It’s expected to feature four legal experts who will examine questions of constitutional grounds as the committee decides whether to write articles of impeachment against Trump, and if so, what those articles will be.

After weeks of deriding the process as a sham, Trump has yet to say whether he or his attorneys will participate in the Judiciary hearings. He’s previously suggested that he might be willing to offer written testimony under certain conditions.

“The Democrats are holding the most ridiculous Impeachment hearings in history. Read the Transcripts, NOTHING was done or said wrong!” Trump tweeted Saturday, before falling silent on Twitter for much of Sunday.

It’s unlikely that the president himself would attend on 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.

Trump must then decide by Friday whether he would take advantage of due process protections afforded to him under House rules adopted in October for follow-up hearings, including the right to request witness testimony and to cross-examine the witnesses called by the House.

“Why would they want to participate in just another rerun?” asked Collins, noting that the Judiciary Committee previously heard from constitutional scholars on impeachable offences during special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.

“This is a complete American waste of time of here,” Collins said, who is calling on the committee chairman, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., to expand the witness list to include those sought by Republicans. “This is why this is a problematic exercise and simply a made-for-TV event coming on Wednesday.”

Still, Republican Rep. Tom McClintock of California, a Judiciary Committee member, said he believes Trump would benefit if he presents his own defence.

“I think it would be to the president’s advantage to have his attorneys there. That’s his right,” he said.

McClintock said he doesn’t believe Trump did anything wrong in the July 25 call with Zelenskiy that is at the heart of the investigation.

“He didn’t use the delicate language of diplomacy in that conversation, that’s true. He also doesn’t use the smarmy talk of politicians,” McClintock said.

To McClintock, Trump was using “the blunt talk of a Manhattan businessman” and “was entirely within his constitutional authority” in his dealings with Ukraine’s leader.

Collins appeared on “Fox News Sunday” and Demings and McClintock were on ABC’s “This Week.”

READ MORE: Trump insists on debunked Ukraine theory, despite testimony

Hope Yen, The Associated Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

LETTER: Surrey, let’s demand referendum on policing – or the resignation of mayor

How pathetic have things become in Surrey that an MP has been forced to speak out?

‘A labour of love’: High school turns into ‘toy shop’ for Surrey Christmas Bureau

Fraser Heights Secondary has been making toys for the non-profit for more than a decade

$192K provincial grant to support Sources Food Hub in Surrey

Money to promote food security through start of a culinary training program

Oppal says Surrey mayor wrong about policing transition timeline

Chairman of committee overseeing Surrey’s transition from RCMP to city police says work won’t be done by Dec. 11

White Rock waterfront strategy ‘pop-up’ session to be held tomorrow

Event to take place at museum from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

MAP: Christmas light displays in Surrey and beyond

Send us pictures of your National Lampoon-style lit-up homes, nativity scenes or North Pole playlands

Many of Canada’s working poor can’t afford lawyers, don’t qualify for legal aid

One lawyer says many people earn too much to qualify for legal aid, but not enough to really live on

Economy lost 71,200 jobs in November, unemployment rate climbs to 5.9%

Jobless rate is at its highest since August 2018, when it hit 6%

VIDEO: John Lennon’s iconic Rolls Royce rolls into Vancouver Island college for checkup

Royal BC Museum, Camosun College and Coachwerks Restorations come together to care for car

VIDEO: Rockslide closes part of Highway 93 in Fairmont Hot Springs

Geotechnical team called in to do an assessment after rocks fell from hoodoos

Chilliwack mom gives back to neonatal unit with Christmas stocking drive

Ashley Durance is paying it forward to other families and their babies following daughter’s NICU stay

Petition calls for appeal of ex-Burns Lake mayor’s sentence for sex assault

Prosecution service says Luke Strimbold’s case is under review

Northwest B.C. wildlife shelter rescues particularly tiny bear cub

Shelter co-founder says the cub weighs less than a third of what it should at this time of year

BC firefighters to help battle Australian bushfires

Canada sent 22 people, including 7 from B.C.

Most Read