Updated at 2:19 p.m. ET
Democrats’ report is divided into two sections — one on what the report calls the “scheme” of the Ukraine affair and one on obstruction.
The report argues that the “scheme” was conducted with the “knowledge and approval” of senior administration figures including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former Energy Secretary Rick Perry and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney.
No specific articles of impeachment or impeachable offenses are named in the report; responsibility for the legislation of impeachment rests with the House Judiciary Committee.
The stakes couldn’t be higher, Democrats argue, especially because of what they call the unwavering support Trump continues to enjoy from supporters no matter what.
“Today, we may be witnessing a collision between the power of a remedy meant to curb presidential misconduct and the power of faction determined to defend against the use of that remedy on a president of the same party,” the Democrats write.
Continues the report: “But perhaps even more corrosive to our democratic system of governance, the president and his allies are making a comprehensive attack on the very idea of fact and truth. How can a democracy survive without acceptance of a common set of experiences?”
In releasing the report, the majority on the House Intelligence Committee, led by Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., wants to set the stage for a hearing scheduled Wednesday in the House Judiciary Committee.
Schiff’s report offers another tour through a narrative that Democrats have repeated throughout the autumn.
The Ukraine affair
They say Trump attempted to extract concessions this year from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, conditioning engagement with him and about $391 million in U.S. assistance on commitments by Zelenskiy to launch investigations that Trump thought might help him in the 2020 election.
The White House froze the assistance for a time but ultimately released it; Zelenskiy didn’t commit to the investigations that he’d discussed with Trump and intermediaries.
Democrats say the story is an abuse of power that should put Trump in peril of losing his office. The two sections of the report, about the Ukrainian pressure scheme and what Democrats call obstruction by Trump, may inform how the Judiciary Committee structures potential articles of impeachment.
Republican defenders argue that the totality of events shows there was no improper exchange and the president shouldn’t be impeached.
The minority report
The ranking member on the Intelligence Committee, Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., detailed that case in a minority report released on Monday evening — the latest set of dueling documents between Republicans and Democrats on the intelligence panel.
Nunes’ new report summarized Republicans’ arguments that Trump was within his authority to act in the way he did; that Democrats haven’t proved that Trump committed “bribery” or any other impeachable crime, as charged; and that Democrats are simply acting out of partisan animus.
“The fundamental disagreement apparent in the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry is a difference of world views and a discomfort with President Trump’s policy decisions,” Nunes’ report said.
Nunes and his colleagues also underscored during Schiff’s open impeachment hearings that aid for Ukraine, although frozen, was never cut off and Zelenskiy never committed to any investigations.
Uneasiness in Kyiv
Moreover, Zelenskiy explained to interviewers this week the difficult position in which he found himself.
The Ukrainian president said he wanted to accommodate Trump, but do so appropriately, while continuing the military and other assistance Ukraine needs to continue to fight Russian and Russian-backed forces after their invasion of 2014.
“Look, I never talked to the president from the position of a quid pro quo,” Zelenskiy told Time Magazine and other news organizations.
He continued: “That’s not my thing…. I don’t want us to look like beggars. But you have to understand. We’re at war. If you’re our strategic partner, then you can’t go blocking anything for us. I think that’s just about fairness. It’s not about a quid pro quo. It just goes without saying.”
Trump called Zelenskiy’s remarks a vindication and Republicans also have cited Zelenskiy’s earlier comments — including that he never felt “pressured” by Trump — because they say it’s evidence that nothing improper occurred.
Impeachment train keeps rolling
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and majority Democrats in the House say Trump was, in effect, caught in the act of using his official powers to benefit himself politically. That’s inappropriate, they argue, and so far they appeared undeterred from impeachment.
Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., and his members are set to take the baton on Wednesday with the next open hearing in the impeachment inquiry.
Nadler announced a panel of law school witnesses that he said will help lawmakers understand the historic and constitutional grounds for impeachment.
Democrats invited Trump to participate, but White House counsel Pat Cipollone made clear that the administration still considers the process baseless and unfair.
Judiciary Committee ranking member Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., also faulted Nadler on Monday for how late Democrats had announced their witnesses and how recklessly Collins said the majority was moving — at once speeding along but also not affording fairness or clarity to Republicans.
Republicans and the public get only about one day to review Schiff’s before the Nadler hearing is scheduled to convene on Wednesday.
“For the first time in history, this committee will weigh impeachment without any evidence for us to review. Any discussion with the yet-to-be identified witnesses will, therefore, be in the abstract,” Collins wrote to Nadler.
Republicans continued to plan their defense on Tuesday.
A coterie of top Trump Republican allies in the House — including Collins, Reps. Mark Meadows of North Carolina, John Ratcliffe of Texas and others — met with Vice President Mike Pence at Pence’s office in the Senate.
The White House is pleased with what it’s seen and it wants more, Ratcliffe said.
“Just going to keep doing the things we have been doing,” he said of Pence’s message.
Democrats at another crossroads
Pelosi and her lieutenants have said impeachment isn’t a foregone conclusion but must be the result of the ongoing process in Congress.
That’s one reason they have declined to give a timetable by which they hope their work would be complete, because they argue that although they want to work as quickly as possible, the job must be done right.
Impeachment is the equivalent of a grand jury indictment — a statement by the House that it believes there’s sufficient evidence for a trial in the Senate over whether Trump keeps his office.
Republicans control the Senate and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has said he thinks it’s “inconceivable” that the sufficient 20 Republicans would side with Democrats to remove the president.
Schiff and others have argued that all they can do is what’s within their power in the House and that if impeachment serves as a deterrent to a future president of the kind of activity in which Trump has engaged, it was worth doing.
Nadler also asked — in response to Cipollone’s letter — why an administration that says it has done nothing wrong isn’t taking part or cooperating with lawmakers’ requests for information about the Ukraine affair.
“The American people deserve transparency,” Nadler said.
The chairman continued: “If the president thinks [his call with Zelenskiy] was ‘perfect’ and there is nothing to hide, then he would turn over the thousands of pages of documents requested by Congress, allow witnesses to testify instead of blocking testimony with baseless privilege claims, and provide any exculpatory information that refutes the overwhelming evidence of his abuse of power.”
Steve Inskeep contributed to this report.