House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said Sunday that while his committee plans on investigating a host of issues relating to President Trump’s July call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, the main focus will center on the president’s “fundamental breach of the president’s oath of office.”
Speaking on NBC’s “Meet The Press,” Schiff said that the president’s behavior was so “egregious” that House lawmakers were forced to open an impeachment inquiry relating to his call with the Ukrainian leader.
“The gravamen of the offense here is the president using the power of his office to coerce a foreign nation into helping his presidential campaign to once again interfere in our election, and at the same time withholding foreign aid that country so desperately needs to fight off who? The Russians,” Schiff said.
He added: “The situation demands that we move forward with the inquiry.”
INTEL CHIEF DEFENDS HANDLING OF TRUMP CALL COMPLAINT, SPARS WITH SCHIFF IN TENSE HEARING
On Tuesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi formally announced an impeachment inquiry into Trump over his July 25 phone call with Zelensky. Democrats have claimed the president threatened to withhold $400 million in military aid unless Ukraine investigated former Vice President Joe Biden, his son Hunter, and their business dealings in the country.
The probe was prompted by a complaint from an intelligence community whistleblower who accused Trump of “using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election.”
Pelosi specifically charged that the administration had violated the law by not turning over a whistleblower complaint concerning Trump’s July call with Zelensky. Citing testimony that the director of national intelligence was blocking the release of that complaint, she said: “This is a violation of law. The law is unequivocal.”
Trump had urged Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Joe Biden has acknowledged on camera that, when he was vice president, he successfully pressured Ukraine to fire its top prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, who was investigating the natural gas firm Burisma Holdings — where Hunter Biden was on the board. Shokin himself had been separately and widely accused of corruption.
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Schiff on Sunday said that while he expects the White House to push back on the House’s attempts to ascertain information regarding the president’s actions, any attempts to thwart the investigation would be viewed as obstruction.
“The president can’t have it both ways — he can’t both prevent us from getting evidence on these serious underlying crimes, or potential crimes, this serious breach of his oath of office, and at the same time obstruct our investigation,” he said. “Even as he tries to weaken our ability to get facts on one, he’s going to strengthen the facts on the other.”