Article II: Inside Impeachment
A Report, A Hearing and Trump’s Response
Adam Schiff: Good afternoon. Today, we transmit the report of the work of three committees (the Intelligence Committee, the Oversight Committee, as well as the Foreign Affairs Committee) into the President's misconduct with respect to Ukraine. And at the outset, I want to (MUSIC) just thank the...
Steve Kornacki: From NBC News, this is a special bonus episode of Article II: Inside Impeachment. I'm Steve Kornacki. Today is Tuesday, December 3rd. And today the House Intelligence Committee released its report on the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.
Schiff: The facts here are really not seriously contested. Indeed, the testimony of the witnesses was remarkably consistent. And you might be forgiven having watched the hearings if you thought that there were two different hearings going on at the same time.
Kornacki: That's Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff addressing the press this afternoon. The 300-page report is product of more than two months of public and private testimony.
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Schiff: But I firmly believe if one party relinquishes its responsibility to the Constitution and to their oath, it does not relieve us of our obligation to the same.
Kornacki: The report concludes two big things: That the President compromised the national interests of the country to advance his personal political interests; and that the President obstructed the impeachment inquiry. Section one is called, quote, "The President's misconduct." That is the public/private piece of this. The President used his public office for personal gain.
Schiff: This report chronicles a scheme by the President of the United States to coerce an ally, Ukraine, that is at war with an adversary, Russia, into doing the President's political dirty work.
Kornacki: The report walks through that July 25th phone call, the ousting of Ambassador Yovanovitch, the freezing of military assistance, and a mounting pressure campaign on Ukraine before, quote, "the President's scheme was exposed." That's an entire subsection in the report that outlines the role of the whistleblower who filed a complaint back in August. That was before the promised aid to Ukraine was finally released. Section two is called, quote, "the President's obstruction of the House of Representatives' impeachment inquiry."
Schiff: If the Congress allows a president to so fully and blanketly obstruct the work of Congress even involving an impeachment investigation into the president's own misconduct, then we are begging for more of the same.
Kornacki: This is all about the ways the committee says that the President tried to block the inquiry. The Democrats' big piece of evidence here is the October 8th letter from White House counsel Pat Cipollone. That's when Cipollone called the inquiry, quote, "constitutionally invalid."
The report also lists all the ways the administration refused to comply with subpoenas and tried to block people from testifying. This section on obstruction ends with a line from the Constitution. Quote, "The House of Representatives shall have the sole power of impeachment." The committee argues that the President has tried to deny Congress its constitutional responsibility.
Schiff: And to my GOP colleagues, they need to consider that when we have a Democratic president, are they willing to say in answer to their oversight that a president may simply refuse? Because if they are and if we do, it will mean that the balance of power between our branches of government will be fundamentally altered and altered for the worse.
Kornacki: Most of the evidence in the report was already out there, but it does include something new: call records that confirm Rudy Giuliani, the President's personal lawyer, was in contact with multiple administration officials during key moments of the Ukraine saga. We'll keep watching for developments around these records as they unfold. (MUSIC)
And Republicans got out ahead on this one. Yesterday, President Trump's allies in the House released their own report on the impeachment inquiry. They continue to argue that the inquiry is unfair and that the evidence does not support impeachment.
Okay, so the report says the inquiry uncovered evidence of misconduct and evidence of obstruction. Now what? Well, the document will be voted on by the Intelligence Committee later tonight. That vote is expected to pass along party lines. Then the document becomes sort of a baton, a passing of the torch from the Intelligence Committee to the Judiciary Committee, which will then open its own hearings tomorrow and will make the decision about which articles of impeachment to bring against the President.
Schiff: And so we have a very difficult decision ahead of us to make. And I have every confidence that the Judiciary Committee in consultation with the entire caucus and our leadership will not only receive this report as well as the reports of others and make a proper determination about whether articles of impeachment are warranted. With that, I'm happy to respond to your questions. (MUSIC)
Kornacki: So there will be a lot going on tomorrow, and we will be covering it all. Article II: Inside Impeachment is produced by Isabel Angel, Max Jacobs, Claire Tighe, Aaron Dalton, Preeti Varathan, Allison Bailey, Adam Noboa, and Barbara Raab. Our executive producer is Ellen Frankman. Steve Lickteig is the executive producer of audio. I'm Steve Kornacki. We'll be back on Wednesday.