Impeachment inquiry against Donald Trump

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An impeachment inquiry against Donald Trump, the 45th and current president of the United States, was initiated on September 24, 2019, by Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives. [1] [2] [3] It began after revelations that President Donald Trump and top administration officials had allegedly pressured leaders of foreign nations, most notably Ukraine, in ways intended to advance Trump's personal interests. [4] [5] [6] [7] Additional allegations of misconduct emerged in the days afterwards. [5]

President of the United States Head of state and of government of the United States

The president of the United States (POTUS) is the head of state and head of government of the United States of America. The president directs the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces.

Nancy Pelosi 52nd speaker of the United States House of Representatives

Nancy Patricia Pelosi is an American Democratic Party politician serving as Speaker of the United States House of Representatives since January 2019, the only woman to have done so. First elected to Congress in 1987, she is the highest-ranking elected woman in United States history. As Speaker of the House, she is second in the presidential line of succession, immediately after the vice president.

Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Presiding Officer of the US House of Representatives

The speaker of the United States House of Representatives is the presiding officer of the United States House of Representatives. The office was established in 1789 by Article I, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution. The speaker is the political and parliamentary leader of the House of Representatives, and is simultaneously the House's presiding officer, de facto leader of the body's majority party, and the institution's administrative head. Speakers also perform various other administrative and procedural functions. Given these several roles and responsibilities, the speaker usually does not personally preside over debates. That duty is instead delegated to members of the House from the majority party. Neither does the speaker regularly participate in floor debates.

Contents

Pelosi initiated the inquiry in the wake of a whistleblower report alleging an ongoing widespread abuse of power and subsequent cover-up by Trump and his administration during Trump's presidency. [8] [9] [10] [11] The whistleblower's report was largely based upon information given to them by more than "half a dozen" U.S. officials [11] and has been largely corroborated. [6] The report also implicated Giuliani and U.S. Attorney General William Barr as part of a more widespread pressure campaign directed towards the Ukrainian government. [12] The first whistleblower's complaint was given to Congress on September 25, 2019, and released to the public the next day. [13] A second whistleblower came forward on October 5, with "first-hand knowledge of allegations" associated with the call between Trump and Zelensky. [14]

Whistleblower protection in the United States

A whistleblower is a person who exposes any kind of information or activity that is deemed illegal, unethical, or not correct within an organization that is either private or public. The Whistleblower Protection Act was made into federal law in the United States in 1989.

Abuse of power, in the form of "malfeasance in office" or "official misconduct," is the commission of an unlawful act, done in an official capacity, which affects the performance of official duties. Malfeasance in office is often grounds for a for cause removal of an elected official by statute or recall election. Abuse of power can also mean a person using the power they have for their own personal gain.

A cover-up is an attempt, whether successful or not, to conceal evidence of wrongdoing, error, incompetence or other embarrassing information. In a passive cover-up, information is simply not provided; in an active cover-up, deception is used.

From May to August 2019, Trump and his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani repeatedly pressed the Government of Ukraine to investigate his political opponent Joe Biden, a former U.S. vice president and candidate for the 2020 U.S. Democratic presidential nomination, and Biden's son Hunter. [15] [16] On July 18, 2019, through his chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, Trump instructed his staff to place a hold on congressionally mandated military aid to Ukraine. [17] [18] During a phone call a week later, he pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to launch two investigations, including one into the actions of the Bidens. The whistleblower also accused the White House of attempting to cover up the contents of this phone call. [12] In response, the Trump administration released a memorandum of the call, confirming that Trump had asked Zelensky to "look into" Biden. [19] [20]

Rudy Giuliani American attorney, businessperson and politician, former mayor of New York City

Rudolph William Louis Giuliani is an American politician, attorney, businessman, and public speaker who served as the 107th Mayor of New York City from 1994 to 2001. He currently acts as an attorney to President Donald Trump. Politically a Democrat, then an Independent in the 1970s, and a Republican since the 1980s, Giuliani served as United States Associate Attorney General from 1981 to 1983. That year he became the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, holding the position until 1989.

Government of Ukraine The executive of Ukraine, consisting of the prime minister and cabinet ministers.

The Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, commonly referred to as the Government of Ukraine, is the highest body of state executive power in Ukraine. As Cabinet of Ministers of the Ukrainian SSR, it was formed on 18 April 1991 by the Law of Ukrainian SSR No.980-XII. Vitold Fokin was approved the first Prime Minister of Ukraine.

Joe Biden 47th Vice President of the United States

Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. is an American politician who served as the 47th vice president of the United States from 2009 to 2017. Biden also represented Delaware in the U.S. Senate from 1973 to 2009. A member of the Democratic Party, Biden is a candidate for president in the 2020 election.

Two close associates of Trump told The New York Times that his alleged behavior was "typical" of his interactions with foreign leaders. [21] The whistleblower's report recorded that Trump's violations were "so obviously egregious" that White House officials immediately attempted to cover it up. One such action was intentionally misclassifying the transcript of the call, and other evidence of presidential misconduct and politically damaging material, so as to place it on top secret servers where very few people would have access to it. [13] [22] [23] Administration officials had begun placing transcripts of conversations with world leaders onto these servers following high-profile leaks in 2017. [24]

<i>The New York Times</i> Daily broadsheet newspaper based in New York City

The New York Times is an American newspaper based in New York City with worldwide influence and readership. Founded in 1851, the paper has won 127 Pulitzer Prizes, more than any other newspaper. The Times is ranked 18th in the world by circulation and 3rd in the U.S.

Classified information Material that a government body claims is sensitive information that requires protection of confidentiality, integrity, or availability

Classified information is material that a government body deems to be sensitive information that must be protected. Access is restricted by law or regulation to particular groups of people with the necessary security clearance and need to know, and intentional mishandling of the material can incur criminal penalties. A formal security clearance is required to view or handle classified documents or to access classified data. The clearance process requires a satisfactory background investigation. Documents and other information must be properly marked "by the author" with one of several (hierarchical) levels of sensitivity—e.g. restricted, confidential, secret and top secret. The choice of level is based on an impact assessment; governments have their own criteria, which include how to determine the classification of an information asset, and rules on how to protect information classified at each level. This often includes security clearances for personnel handling the information. Although "classified information" refers to the formal categorization and marking of material by level of sensitivity, it has also developed a sense synonymous with "censored" in US English. A distinction is often made between formal security classification and privacy markings such as "commercial in confidence". Classifications can be used with additional keywords that give more detailed instructions on how data should be used or protected.

The White House officially responded to the impeachment proceedings with a letter from White House Counsel Pat Cipollone to House Speaker Pelosi that it would cease all cooperation with the investigation. In the October 8, 2019, letter, the White House officially declined to cooperate with what they claimed was an illegitimate effort "to overturn the results of the 2016 election." The eight-page letter stated that the investigation "violates the Constitution, the rule of law, and every past precedent". House Speaker Nancy Pelosi responded to the letter stating that "The White House should be warned that continued efforts to hide the truth of the president's abuse of power from the American people will be regarded as further evidence of obstruction." [25] [26] [27] [28] [29]

Background

Previous efforts for impeachment

Efforts to impeach President Donald Trump have been made by various people and groups. [30] [31] Talk of impeachment began even before Trump took office. [32] Formal efforts were initiated by Representatives Al Green and Brad Sherman, both Democrats (D), in 2017, the first year of his presidency. [33] [34] [35] A December 2017 resolution of impeachment failed in the then Republican-led House by a 58–364 margin. [36]

Impeachment in the United States Process of bringing charges against a civil officer for crimes alleged to have been committed

Impeachment in the United States is the process by which a legislature brings charges against a civil officer of government for crimes alleged to have been committed, analogous to the bringing of an indictment by a grand jury. At the federal level, this is at the discretion of the House of Representatives. Most impeachments have concerned alleged crimes committed while in office, though there have been a few cases in which officials have been impeached and subsequently convicted for crimes committed prior to taking office. The impeached official remains in office until a trial is held. That trial, and their removal from office if convicted, is separate from the act of impeachment itself. Analogous to a trial before a judge and jury, these proceedings are conducted by the upper house of the legislature, which at the federal level is the Senate.

United States House of Representatives Lower house of the United States Congress

The United States House of Representatives is the lower house of the United States Congress, the Senate being the upper house. Together they compose the national legislature of the United States.

Al Green (politician) U.S. Representative from Texas

Alexander N. Green is an American lawyer and politician. Green has served in Congress as the Representative for Texas's 9th congressional district since 2005. The 9th District includes most of southwestern Houston, part of Fort Bend County and most of Missouri City. Green is a member of the Democratic Party.

Democrats gained control of the House following the 2018 elections and launched multiple investigations into Trump's actions and finances. [37] [38] On January 17, 2019, new accusations involving Trump surfaced, claiming he instructed his long-time lawyer, Michael Cohen, to lie under oath surrounding Trump's involvement with the Russian government to erect a Trump Tower in Moscow. [39] This also sparked calls for an investigation and for the president to "resign or be impeached" should such claims be proven genuine. [40]

The Mueller Report, released on April 18, 2019, reached no conclusion as to whether Trump had committed criminal obstruction of justice. [41] Special Counsel Robert Mueller strongly hinted that it was up to Congress to make such a determination. Congressional support for an impeachment inquiry increased as a result. [42] Speaker Nancy Pelosi initially resisted calls for impeachment. [43] In May 2019, she indicated that Trump's continued actions, which she characterized as obstruction of justice and refusal to honor congressional subpoenas, might make an impeachment inquiry necessary. [44] [45] An increasing number of House Democrats (and a then-Republican) were requesting such an inquiry. [46]

As of September 2019, the following resolutions had been introduced in the 116th Congress regarding possible impeachment:

Less than 20 Representatives in the House supported impeachment by January 2019, but this number grew after the Mueller Report was released in April and after Mueller testified in July, up to around 140 Representatives before the Trump–Ukraine controversy began. [57]

Congressional support for an inquiry

Representative John Lewis says on September 24, 2019, that "the time to begin impeachment proceedings, against this president, has come".

A majority of House members support the initiation of the impeachment inquiry. [58] As of October 10,2019, this includes 227 Democrats, and one independent, Representative Justin Amash from Michigan, [59] who left the Republican Party on July 4, 2019, in the wake of his protests regarding the lack of holding Trump accountable. [60] Amash became a leading supporter of impeachment after the whistleblower report was released, stating that the call script was a "devastating indictment of the president". [61] After further allegations of misconduct came to light in the days afterwards, Nevada representative Mark Amodei was reportedly the first Republican in the House of Representatives to support an impeachment inquiry, [62] but later clarified that he supported an "oversight process" but did not support an "inquiry," without explaining the distinction between the two. [63] [64]

Trump–Ukraine controversy

The whistleblower complaint regarding a phone conversation between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky Trump-Ukraine whistleblower complaint unclassified.pdf
The whistleblower complaint regarding a phone conversation between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky
A memorandum of the call between Trump and Zelensky released by the White House on September 25, 2019 Donald Trump and Volodymyr Zelensky telephone conversation memorandum.pdf
A memorandum of the call between Trump and Zelensky released by the White House on September 25, 2019

From May to August 2019, Trump and his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani pressed the Ukrainian government to investigate business activities of Hunter Biden, [65] the son of 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden, [66] [67] [68] [69] [16] who took a board seat on Ukrainian natural gas company Burisma Holdings. [70] [71] Despite the allegations, as of September 2019, there has been no evidence produced of any wrongdoing by the Bidens. [72] [73] [74] [75] [76]

The whistleblower report centered around one instance of such pressure that occurred in a July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in which Trump mentioned two investigations he wanted to see Ukraine launch. [12] [19] One of these would concern allegations that connected the American cybersecurity technology company CrowdStrike to Ukrainian actors supposedly interfering in the 2016 election. [77] [78] Trump had been repeatedly told by aides that Ukraine did not interfere in the 2016 election, but refused to accept these assurances. [79] The theory, which originated on 4chan in 2017, has been spread by blogs, social media, and Fox News. [80] The other requested investigation concerned Joe Biden, former U.S. Vice President and a candidate for the 2020 presidential election, and the Ukrainian business dealings of his son Hunter Biden. [12] [2] [15] At the time of the inquiry, Joe Biden was the leading candidate in Democratic Party primary polling, according to poll aggregators, making him Trump's most likely 2020 election opponent. [81] On September 25, the White House released part of a transcript of Trump's conversation with Zelensky following a promise to do so the previous day; [82] [83] on the same day, the whistleblower complaint was released to Congress. [84]

On July 18, 2019, Trump had placed a hold on military aid to Ukraine [18] while "providing no explanation"; [85] he lifted it in September. [85] Trump did not mention the hold in his conversation with Zelensky, but he repeatedly pointed out that the United States has been "very very good" to Ukraine, with which Zelensky agreed. Zelensky then expressed interest in obtaining more U.S. missiles, to which Trump replied "I would like you to do us a favor though" and brought up his request for investigations. [86] Democratic candidate for president Elizabeth Warren described this sentence as a "smoking gun" suggesting a quid pro quo. [86] Prominent Democrats, including Senators Robert Menendez and Chris Murphy, suggested that the hold may have been intended to implicitly or explicitly pressure the Ukrainian government to investigate Hunter Biden. [17] Former Ukrainian presidential advisor Serhiy Leshchenko said it was made a "clear fact" that Ukraine's communication with the United States was dependent on discussing a future investigation into the Bidens, [87] while another anonymous Ukrainian lawmaker stated that Trump attempted to "pressure" and "blackmail" them into accepting a "quid-pro-quo" agreement based upon cooperation. [88]

The New York Times reported on October 3, that U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland and U.S. Special Envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker had in August drafted a statement for Velensky to sign that would commit Ukraine to investigate Burisma, the company that Hunter Biden worked for, as well as the conspiracy theory that Ukraine interfered with the 2016 election to benefit Hillary Clinton. [89]

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said on September 13, 2019, that he had issued a subpoena to Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire, as Maguire had failed to release a whistleblower's complaint filed under the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act on August 12, 2019, to the congressional intelligence committees as was arguably required by the relevant statute. Schiff argued that he had concerns that the complaint might have been withheld from Congress "in an unlawful effort to protect the President and conceal from the Committee information related to his possible 'serious or flagrant' misconduct, abuse of power, or violation of law." [90] [91]

On September 22, shortly after the whistleblower's allegations became public, Trump acknowledged that he had discussed Joe Biden during a call with Zelensky on July 25. Trump stated that "The conversation I had was largely congratulatory, was largely corruption, all of the corruption taking place, was largely the fact that we don't want our people like Vice President Biden and his son creating [ sic ] to the corruption already in Ukraine." [92] Trump denied that his hold on military aid for Ukraine was linked to the Ukrainian government's refusal to investigate the Hunter Biden controversy, while also saying that withholding aid for this reason would have been ethically acceptable if he had done it. [93] On September 26, 2019, Trump accused the whistleblower of being a "spy" and guilty of treason, before noting that treason is punishable by death. [94] [95] [96] As a result of Trump's comments, the whistleblower's lawyers said their client feared for his or her safety. [72]

Two people close to Trump told The New York Times that the behavior in the scandal was "typical" of his "dealings on the phone with world leaders": "Engage in flattery, discuss mutual cooperation, and bring up a [personal] favor that then could be delegated to another person on Mr. Trump's team." [21] In an interview, Giuliani defended Trump, calling the president's request of the Ukrainian president "perfectly appropriate," while also indicating that he himself may have made a similar request to Ukrainian officials. [97]

Further revelations

President Trump states "China should start an investigation into the Bidens"; video from the White House.

Details emerged on September 27, 2019, that the White House had used the most highly classified computer system to store memorandums of conversations with the leaders and officials of countries including Ukraine, Saudi Arabia and Russia. Administration officials had began storing these transcripts into this system after Trump's conversations with Australia's prime minister Malcolm Turnbull and Mexico's president Enrique Peña Nieto leaked earlier in 2017. [24] This was seen by critics and the media as a deliberate attempt to hide potentially damaging information. [98] Also on September 27, it was reported that Trump had told Russian officials in 2017 that he was unconcerned about Russian interference in U.S. elections. [99] [100] On October 4, 2019, Trump held a news conference where he publicly said that Ukraine should investigate the Bidens, and also called on China to investigate the Bidens. [101]

Investigation into the Russia probe and Mueller report

Soon after the release of the Mueller report, Trump began urging an investigation into the origins of the Russia probe, wanting to "investigate the investigators" and possibly discredit the conclusions of the FBI and Mueller. [102] In April 2019, Attorney General William Barr announced that he had launched a review of the origins of the FBI's investigation, [103] [104] even though the origins of the probe were already being investigated by the Justice Department's inspector general and by U.S. attorney John Huber, who had been appointed to the same task in 2018 by then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions. [105] Barr assigned U.S. Attorney John Durham to lead the probe, [106] and Trump directed the American intelligence community to "promptly provide assistance and information" to Barr, and delegated to him the "full and complete authority" to declassify any related documents. [102] [107] Although Durham was nominally in charge of the investigation, Barr himself began contacting foreign governments to ask for information about the origins of the FBI probe. Barr personally traveled to the United Kingdom and Italy to seek information; Italy's parliament is expected to begin its own investigation into Barr's meetings with Italian secret services. [108] At Barr's request, Trump himself phoned the prime minister of Australia, Scott Morrison, to ask for assistance. [109] [110]

Second whistleblower

A second whistleblower, who is also an intelligence official, came forward on October 5, 2019, with "first-hand knowledge of allegations" associated with the phone call between Trump and Zelensky, according to the lawyer representing both whistleblowers. [14]

Inquiry

External video
Nuvola apps kaboodle.svg Announcement by Nancy Pelosi of formal impeachment inquiry, September 24, 2019, C-SPAN

On the evening of September 24, 2019, Pelosi announced that six committees of the House of Representatives would undertake a formal impeachment inquiry into President Trump. Pelosi accused Trump of betraying his oath of office, U.S. national security, and the integrity of the country's elections. [1] [2] [3] The six committees charged with the task are the committees on Financial Services, the Judiciary, Intelligence, Foreign Affairs, Oversight and Reform, and Ways and Means. [111]

In a private conference call with Democratic lawmakers on September 29, 2019, Pelosi explained how three of these House committees will begin investigating the President's alleged abuse of power. The Intelligence Committee will focus on the contents of the whistleblower complaint and whether the complaint may have been wrongfully hidden from Congress, while the Foreign Affairs Committee will focus on interactions the State Department may have had with the President's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, and the Oversight and Reform Committee will investigate whether White House classification systems were used to secure potentially damaging records of phone calls between the President and leaders of various countries around the world. [112]

Subpoenas

Letter written by White House Counsel to the Speaker and committee chairs indicating that Trump and his administration "cannot participate in [the House's] partisan and unconstitutional inquiry under these circumstances" Cipollone White House Letter Regarding Trump Impeachment Inquiry, October 8, 2019.pdf
Letter written by White House Counsel to the Speaker and committee chairs indicating that Trump and his administration "cannot participate in [the House's] partisan and unconstitutional inquiry under these circumstances"

On September 27, 2019, a subpoena was issued by the House to obtain documents Secretary of State Mike Pompeo refused to release earlier. Said documents include several interactions between Trump, Giuliani, and Ukrainian government officials. The documents are requested to be filed with the involved committees probing the issue; the failure to do so "shall constitute evidence of obstruction of the House's impeachment inquiry," as stated in a letter written to Pompeo. [113] The subpoena comes after several requests by the House to receive the documents from the Secretary which he did not fulfill. Several members of the House involved with the impeachment inquiry sent him subsequent letters stating that they will be meeting with members of the State Department who may provide further information. [114] [115] The following week, a subpoena was also issued to Giuliani for production of documents. [116]

On October 4, 2019, the House Intelligence Committee issued subpoenas both to the White House and to Vice President Mike Pence for documents related to the whistleblower complaint. [117] Among the White House documents requested include audio tapes, transcripts, notes, and other White House documents related to the whistleblower controversy. [118]

On October 8, 2019 the White House announced that it would cease all cooperation with the investigation in a letter from White House Counsel Pat Cipollone to Speaker Pelosi and the three committee chairmen conducting the impeachment investigation. In the letter Cipollone stated that the investigation "violates the Constitution, the rule of law, and every past precedent" and that "The President cannot allow your constitutionally illegitimate proceedings to distract him and those in the Executive Branch". The letter went on to state that "[the investigation's] unprecedented actions have left the president with no choice in order to fulfill his duties to the American people, the Constitution, the Executive Branch, and all future occupants of the Office of the presidency, President Trump and his administration cannot participate in your partisan and unconstitutional inquiry under these circumstances." House Speaker Nancy Pelosi responded to the letter stating that "The White House should be warned that continued efforts to hide the truth of the president's abuse of power from the American people will be regarded as further evidence of obstruction." [25] [26] [27] [119] [29]

Testimony

Maguire, the Acting Director of National Intelligence who delayed the whistleblower complaint from reaching Congress, testified before the House Intelligence Committee on September 26, 2019. [120] Maguire defended his decision not to immediately forward the whistleblower complaint to Congress and explained that he had consulted the White House Counsel and the Office of Legal Counsel at the Justice Department but was unable to determine if the document was protected by executive privilege. Democrats on the committee questioned his actions, arguing that the law demands that he "shall" forward such complaints to the committee. Maguire countered that the situation was unique since the complaint involves communications of the president. Members of the Intelligence Committee also asked the director why he chose to consult with White House lawyers when he was not required to do so by law, to which he responded that he believed "it would be prudent to have another opinion". [121]

On the morning of the Cipollone letter, Sondland had been scheduled to testify before the House regarding his involvement in the withholding of aid from the Ukraine. However, he was instructed not to attend at the last minute by the state department upon Trump's command. [27] Marie Yovanovitch, the former ambassador to Ukraine, testified that she was "incredulous" at being dismissed in May. According to the rough transcript of a July phone conversation between Presidents Trump and Zelensky, Trump described Yovanovitch as "bad news". Yovanovitch testified that she had never met or spoken with Hunter Biden and that Joe Biden had never raised the subject of his son or the Ukrainian gas firm that employed him. [122]

Responses

Trump and the White House

Donald Trump Twitter
@realDonaldTrump

"... If the Democrats are successful in removing the President from office (which they will never be), it will cause a Civil War like fracture in this Nation from which our Country will never heal." Pastor Robert Jeffress, @FoxNews

September 29, 2019 [123]

In the wake of the inquiry, the White House threatened to "shut down" all major legislation as political leverage. Trump said there would be "no more infrastructure bills, no more anything". [124] Despite this declaration, legislators continued to work, with an emphasis on spending bills. [125]

Following the initiation of the impeachment inquiry, Trump and his surrogates engaged in a campaign to discredit impeachment. [126] Rudy Giuliani took a lead role in television appearances. [127] One aspect of the campaign focused on attacking Joe Biden and his son over alleged but unproven misconduct involving Ukraine. [75] Another aspect of the campaign focused on discrediting the whistleblower over his motivations and for making the complaint on hearsay. [128]

Trump took to Twitter, attacking opponents and praising supporters. [129] On September 30, 2019, he suggested that one of the investigators, Representative Schiff, chairman of the Intelligence Committee, could be arrested for treason, [130] and that a Second American Civil War would occur if he was removed from office. [131] In further tweets, he said that he wanted to meet the whistleblower who had portrayed him in a "totally inaccurate and fraudulent way"; he said the individual illegally gave the information and potentially spied on the United States, and hinted they would face major consequences. [132] Trump also falsely described the impeachment inquiry as "a coup, intending to take away the power of [the] people, their vote, [and] their freedoms," [133] and said the Democrats were "wasting everyone's time and energy on bullshit". [134]

Trump allegedly told supporters at a private event on September 26, which was recorded and later reported by the Los Angeles Times, that the individual's actions were "close to a spy" and: "You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart? Right? The spies and treason, we used to handle it a little differently than we do now." This was an apparent reference to execution. [132] [135] On September 30, Trump said "we're trying to find out" who the whistleblower was. [136]

On September 30, it was revealed[ vague ] that Trump and his reelection campaign had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on Facebook advertisements to push for his defense. More than 1,800 ads on Trump's Facebook page that mentioned "impeachment" had run the week prior, and had been viewed between 16–18 million times on Facebook. Analysis by the New York University Tandon School of Engineering indicates that the campaign spent between $600,000 and $2 million on the ads, which reportedly attempted to rally and enlist people for the "Official Impeachment Defense Task Force". A further $700,000 is believed to have been spent for ads on Pence's Facebook page, which mirrored the content on Trump's. [137]

On October 3, with the impeachment inquiry ongoing, Trump told reporters that in addition to Ukraine, China should also investigate the Bidens. [138] Later in the day, Pence voiced his support for Trump's comments, saying, "I think the American people have a right to know if the vice president of the United States or his family profited from his position." [139] After Pence was requested to turn over related documents on October 4, his press secretary, Katie Waldman, criticized the request as a ploy. [140]

Whistleblowers and their lawyers

Mark Zaid, a lawyer for the whistleblower, said in a statement in September 2019, that the individual's identity must be protected by law, and cited testimony by Maguire which drew upon the Whistleblower Protection Act. The statement was released after Trump questioned the validity of the whistleblower's statements on Twitter. [141] Another lawyer for the whistleblower took to Twitter to issue a warning on September 30, that the whistleblower is entitled to anonymity, is protected by laws and policies, and is not to be retaliated against; to do so would violate federal law. [132]

A joint letter was sent to Maguire on September 28, and made public on September 29, in which they raised concerns about the language used by Trump, amongst other things. In the letter the lawyers state "The events of the past week have heightened our concerns that our client's identity will be disclosed publicly and that, as a result, our client will be put in harm's way." The letter also mentioned the $50,000 "bounty" that two conservative Trump supporters have offered as a "reward" for information about the whistleblower. [142]

Politicians

Members of Congress

Trump's Republican allies were initially opposed to impeachment. Senator Lindsey Graham criticised the whistleblower, calling his complaint hearsay and a sham. [143] Many Republicans who had been stout defenders of congressional oversight during the Obama Administration joined Trump's resistance to the investigation. [144] Notable Republican critics of Trump included Senator Mitt Romney of Utah, who called Trump's actions "troubling in the extreme" and "wrong and appalling". Romney said it strained credulity to say that Trump's actions were anything other than politically motivated. [145]

State governors

Phil Scott, the governor of Vermont, [146] became the first Republican governor to support the impeachment inquiry. Charlie Baker, the Republican governor of Massachusetts, also announced his support. [147] Republican Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan later announced his support for an inquiry, though clarifying he did not yet support impeachment itself. [148]

Media

The New York Times editorial board stated that Trump appeared to be "operating on the assumption that the more shameless his assault on democratic norms and laws, the more he can get away with". [149]

The Guardian released an editorial calling Trump an abuser of his office. [150] In response to the October 8 letter from the White House to Pelosi an editorial in The New York Times said the letter argued that it was right for the president of the United States to use his office to seek a foreign government's interference on his behalf in an election — even by way of extortion. At the same time, the letter argued, it is illegitimate for Congress, a coequal branch of government, to undertake any investigation into the president or members of his administration, or even his associates regarding this behavior. The editorial additionally called the letter "a formal assertion of executive power and impunity without precedent in American history." noting that the neither the constitution, nor federal law proscribed the process for impeachment, and that therefore it was for the house to decide how to carry out the investigation. [151] The Washington Post editorial board called the letter unhinged and stated that Trump was asserting autocratic authority. [152]

A group of 17 former Watergate special prosecutors published an opinion piece in the Washington Post in unanimous agreement that the public record contained prima facie evidence that Trump had committed impeachable acts. [153]

Academia

Historians and diplomats called the severity of the allegations "unprecedented" in American history. [154]

Some academics responded to tweets by Trump in which he quoted a longtime evangelical pastor who warned of a "civil war" if Democrats continued the inquiry. On Twitter, John Coates a Harvard Law School professor cautioned that the tweet was an independent basis for impeachment as the sitting President was threatening civil war if Congress exercised its constitutionally authorized power. [155] A fellow faculty member of Harvard Law, Laurence Tribe, agreed but cautioned that, due to the typical tone of Trump's tweets, the statement could be interpreted as "typical Trumpian bloviating" that would not be taken seriously or literally. [156]

Academic historian Kevin Kruse took issue with Trump's assertion that the Democrats would be solely responsible for his impeachment. Kruse said that for the U.S. Senate to remove Trump from office, 20 Republicans would need to join the 45 Democrats and two Independents, and blaming only the Democrats was both "dangerous" and "dumb". [155]

Public opinion

Given all the statistical ties, polling has indicated that Americans are generally split on their support of the impeachment inquiry. A YouGov poll on September 24, 2019, found that 55% would support impeachment and 26% would oppose if Trump was confirmed to have pressured the Ukrainian government. [157] A Marist Poll for NPR and PBS around the same timeframe found that a 50–46 plurality approved of the House's decision to start an impeachment inquiry. [158] A Politico/Morning Consult poll released shortly after Pelosi announced her support for the inquiry found support for impeachment increased seven percentage points compared to the poll of the previous week. [159] A Business Insider poll on September 27, found that 45% supported an impeachment inquiry while 30% opposed. [160] A September 30, Quinnipiac University poll found that 56 percent of those polled thought members of Congress who support impeaching President Trump are doing so more on the basis of partisan politics than on the basis of the facts. [161]

Polling of support for the impeachment inquiry among Americans
Poll sourceDate(s) administeredSample size Margin of error Support [lower-greek 1] Oppose [lower-greek 1] Undecided
Monmouth University [162] Sep 23–291161± 2.9%49%43%7%
Politico / Morning Consult [163] Sep 24–261640 [lower-greek 2] ± 2.0%43%43%13%
NPR / PBS NewsHour / Marist [158] Sep 25864± 4.6%49%46%5%
Hill / HarrisX [164] Sep 26–271003 [lower-greek 2] ± 3.1%47%42%11%
CBS News / YouGov [165] Sep 26–272059± 2.3%42%36%22%
Reuters / Ipsos [166] Sep 26–301917 [lower-greek 2] ± 2.6%45%43%12%
Quinnipiac University [167] [168] Sep 27–291115 [lower-greek 2] ± 3.6%47%47%6%
Politico / Morning Consult [169] Sep 27–302488 [lower-greek 2] ± 2.0%46%43%11%
USA Today / Ipsos [170] Oct 1–21006± 3.5%45%38%17%
Washington Post / George Mason [171] Oct 1–61007± 3.5%58%38%4%
NPR / PBS NewsHour / Marist [172] Oct 3–81123± 3.4%52%43%5%
The Wall Street Journal / NBC News [173] Oct 4–6800± 3.46%55%39%6%
Fox News [174] Oct 6–81003 [lower-greek 2] ± 3.0%55%40%5%
Politico / Morning Consult [175] Oct 7–81991 [lower-greek 2] ± 2.0%50%44%6%
Polling of support for removal of Trump from office among Americans
Poll sourceDate(s) administeredSample size Margin of error Support [lower-greek 1] Oppose [lower-greek 1] Undecided
Monmouth University [162] Sep 23–291161± 2.9%44%52%5%
HuffPost/YouGov [176] Sep 24–261000± 3.2%47%39%14%
CNN / SSRS [177] Sep 24–291009± 3.5%47%45%8%
Washington Post / George Mason [171] Oct 1–61007± 3.5%49%44%7%
NPR / PBS NewsHour / Marist [172] Oct 3–81123± 3.4%48%48%4%
The Wall Street Journal / NBC News [173] Oct 4–6800± 3.46%43%49%8%
Fox News [174] Oct 6–81003 [lower-greek 2] ± 3.0%51%44%5%
Politico / Morning Consult [175] Oct 7–81991 [lower-greek 2] ± 2.0%50%42%7%
  1. 1 2 3 4 These polls are color-coded relative to the margin of error (×2 for spread). If the poll is a statistical tie, both colors are used. If the margin of error is, for example, 2.5, then the spread would be 5, so a 50% support / 45% oppose would be tied.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Polled registered voters.

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