WASHINGTON — House investigators are planning a detailed report on President Trump’s Ukraine dealings after public testimony ends next week, setting the stage for narrowly crafted articles of impeachment that will likely be entirely focused on the White House “pressure campaign” to demand investigations of Trump’s political rivals and not other allegations of presidential misconduct, a key House member tells Yahoo News.
“I think there is a strong sentiment among many of my colleagues that we should keep this simple,” said Rep. Tom Malinowski, D-N.J., during an interview for Yahoo News’ “Skullduggery” podcast.
“If we investigated every potentially impeachable act that President Trump has committed,” he added, “we’d be here past his first term.”
Malinowski’s comments address one of the biggest sources of tension within the Democratic caucus about how to craft articles of impeachment against the president. Some members, especially on the House Judiciary Committee, have argued that impeachment should address other instances of Trump’s alleged misconduct. They point to instances of possible obstruction of justice detailed in special counsel Robert Mueller’s report and violations of the U.S. Constitution’s Emoluments Clause due to revenues collected by the Trump Organization from foreign governments and other sources.
But Malinowski, a former top State Department official and a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, along with a growing number of Democrats, has concluded that any move to expand the scope of impeachment will only backfire and undercut efforts to win over independent voters and perhaps even a few Republicans whose support is essential for the final vote to have any claim of bipartisanship. His comments came as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for the first time asserted that Trump’s demands for Ukraine to investigate political rivals, while military aid was being withheld, constituted evidence of “bribery.”
And, although no current House Republicans voted in favor of the recent House resolution authorizing the impeachment inquiry, Malinowski said he hasn’t given up hope that a few may yet support impeachment articles in the final vote.
“I’ve spoken to Republicans here who’ve told me privately, ‘Don’t interpret my vote on that procedural resolution on the process as necessarily a vote against impeachment. We haven’t made up our minds,’” said Malinowski. He said he doesn’t “expect a lot of them to be with us, but I’ve been told privately that some are genuinely troubled by what they heard.”
House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff has yet to lay out a precise timetable for moving forward in the next few weeks, but Malinowski said that he expects the panel’s report on its findings from the public hearings to be written over the Thanksgiving holiday and then delivered to the full House. At that point, it will be referred to the House Judiciary Committee to hold its own hearings and then draft articles of impeachment.
Malinowski, who served as assistant secretary of state for human rights under President Barack Obama, foreshadowed the messaging he expects Democrats to use to make the case that Trump’s conduct with Ukraine warrants his removal from office.
“Imagine your house is on fire and you call 911, and the dispatcher says to you, ‘Oh, my gosh. Your house is on fire. That’s terrible. We’d love to help. We need a favor, though,’” he said. “At every stage of our interaction with the government, there’s a quid pro quo, there’s a favor demanded in exchange for a service that’s supposed to be in the public interest.”
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