READ: Adam Schiff letter to lawmakers laying out path forward for impeachment inquiry
Posted November 25, 2019 3:19 p.m. EST
CNN — House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, a California Democrat, sent a letter to House colleagues Monday laying out the path forward for the impeachment inquiry.
According to Schiff's letter, a report on the findings of the inquiry will be sent to the House Judiciary Committee "soon after Congress returns from Thanksgiving recess."
Read the full letter below:
The House Intelligence Committee has just concluded two weeks of public hearings as part of the House of Representatives' impeachment inquiry, during which time the American people heard from twelve witnesses, including three witnesses requested by the Minority. These hearings were conducted pursuant to House Resolution 660 in a fair and open manner, and in a way that put the witnesses' own words and testimony front and center.
These hearings were supplemented by seventeen depositions and transcribed interviews conducted by the Intelligence Committee, in coordination with the Committees on Oversight and Reform and Foreign Affairs. In addition, the Committees issued dozens of document requests and subpoenas over the previous six weeks. We have been working expeditiously and have uncovered a massive amount of evidence in short order, despite wholesale efforts to obstruct the investigation by the President and his Administration.
I am immensely grateful to the Members and staff of the three Committees, who have worked long nights as a team for months, doing their work selflessly and skillfully. I am proud of the work we have done, and I believe the American people should be as well. I particularly want to thank our dear friend and colleague Elijah Cummings, who remains our North Star although he is no longer with us, as well as my colleagues Eliot Engel and Carolyn Maloney. I also want to acknowledge the important work of Maxine Waters, Jerry Nadler, and Richie Neal's committees.
Over the course of our inquiry, we have uncovered a months-long effort in which President Trump again sought foreign interference in our elections for his personal and political benefit at the expense of our national interest. As the evidence conclusively shows, President Trump conditioned official acts—a White House meeting desperately desired by the new Ukrainian president and critical U.S. military assistance—on Ukraine announcing sham, politically-motivated investigations that would help President Trump's 2020 reelection campaign. The corrupt intent made plain in the record of the July 25 call between Presidents Trump and Zelensky has been supplemented by significant evidence showing the extent of the President's abuse of power both before and after the July 25 telephone call. This conduct directed by the President not only became more "insidious" over time, but was known to the Vice President, the President's Chief of Staff, the Secretary of State, and others down the line.
As required of them by duly authorized subpoenas, many witnesses came forward to present the facts of the President's misconduct to the Committees. Several witnesses did this despite great risk to their careers as public servants, and at great personal risk, as well. The testimony and documents we have succeeded in acquiring reveal a fact pattern that is overwhelming, unchallenged, and damning.
However, it is also the case that the Administration undertook an unprecedented campaign of obstruction in an effort to prevent the Committees from obtaining documentary evidence and testimony. A dozen witnesses followed President Trump's order to defy lawful subpoenas, and the White House, State Department, Department of Defense, Office of Management and Budget, and Department of Energy have provided no documents in response to subpoenas. In fact, the Committees did not receive a single document from any executive branch agencies pursuant to our subpoenas. And, yet, this effort to stonewall failed in the face of repeated witness testimony that provided the Committees with direct evidence of the President's actions and identified records documenting the President's effort and the complicity of senior officials in it.
The investigative work continues, and we are learning additional information almost every day. But while we will continue with our investigative work and do not foreclose the possibility of further depositions or hearings, we will not allow the President or others to drag this out for months on end in the courts. The President has accepted or enlisted foreign nations to interfere in our upcoming elections, including the next one; this is an urgent matter that cannot wait if we are to protect the nation's security and the integrity of our elections.
As required under House Resolution 660, the Committees are now preparing a report summarizing the evidence we have found this far, which will be transmitted to the Judiciary Committee soon after Congress returns from the Thanksgiving recess.
We will catalog the instances of non-compliance with lawful subpoenas as part of our report to the Judiciary Committee, which will allow that Committee to consider whether an article of impeachment based on obstruction of Congress is warranted along with an article or articles based on this underlying conduct or other presidential misconduct. Such obstruction was the basis of the third article of impeachment against President Richard Nixon. Further, we will be forced to infer from this obstruction that the testimony of these witnesses would tend to incriminate the President further since he would have encouraged—rather than blocked—the testimony of senior officials like Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and former National Security Advisor Ambassador John Bolton, if he believed it would somehow be helpful to him. The fact that the President has uniformly instructed all executive branch agencies and senior officials to obstruct the investigation further demonstrates consciousness of guilt on the part of the President.
Even as we draft our report, we are open to the possibility that further evidence will come to light, whether in the form of witnesses who provide testimony or documents that become available. If other witnesses seek to show the same patriotism and courage of their colleagues and deputies and decide to obey their duty to the country over fealty to the President, we are prepared to hear from them. We will follow up on any additional evidence, even as we proceed with the preparation of our report.
But the evidence of wrongdoing and misconduct by the President that we have gathered to date is clear and hardly in dispute. What is left to us now is to decide whether this behavior is compatible with the office of the Presidency, and whether the Constitutional process of impeachment is warranted. It has been our hope all along that our Republican colleagues would seek the facts and give due consideration to the weighty constitutional decision before us, placing country above party. We still hope that will be the case. But we cannot relinquish our constitutional responsibilities because others may choose to do so.
Chairman Nadler and the Members and staff of the Judiciary Committee will proceed in the next phase of the impeachment inquiry. I urge all members to find guidance from our oath of office to protect and defend the Constitution. For the people, we must defend our democracy.
I hope that all of you and your families have a restful and reflective Thanksgiving holiday.
Adam B. Schiff
Chairman; House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence