Ukraine Scandal Explained: Here’s What Led To Impeachment Inquiry of Trump
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Topline: With the Washington Post report Tuesday that Nancy Pelosi will announce a formal impeachment inquiry into President Trump, the allegations that Trump pressured a foreign power (Ukraine) to investigate a rival (Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter) for his own political gain will get a full congressional investigation that threatens to topple his presidency.
Here are the key developments in the story, which Forbes will continue to update:
- September 13: House intelligence chair Adam Schiff subpoenas Joseph Maguire, the acting director of national intelligence, accusing him of withholding a whistleblower report of “urgent concern.”
- September 18: The Washington Post reports that the whistleblower had complained on August 12 that Trump made a “promise” on a phone call to a foreign leader.
- September 19: The New York Times and the Post report that the whistleblower report had to do with Ukraine; House intelligence committee chair Adam Schiff threatens possible legal action if the whistleblower report is not released to Congress.
- September 20: The Wall Street Journal reports the Trump phone call was with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky in July and that Trump had asked Zelensky “about eight times” to investigate Joe Biden’s son Hunter.
- September 20: About an hour after the Journal report, Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer, appears on CNN and seems to contradict himself about whether he asked Ukraine to investigate Hunter Biden, ultimately saying he did. Giuliani has told the press that Biden, as vice president, had put pressure on Ukraine to fire its top prosecutor for reasons related to Hunter Biden’s role as a director of a natural gas company under investigation.
- September 20: Democrats begin calling for an impeachment inquiry. Beto O’Rourke, Cory Booker, Ilhan Omar and Joe Kennedy all tweet their support for impeachment.
- September 22: Trump tells reporters that he did discuss Biden with Zelensky during the July phone call, saying, “We don’t want our people like Vice President Biden and his son creating to the corruption already in the Ukraine.” (No evidence of any such corruption has surfaced.)
- September 22: In a letter to House Democrats, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi writes that if the Trump administration refuses to hand over the whistleblower report to Congress, “they will be entering a grave new chapter of lawlessness which will take us into a whole new stage of investigation.”
- September 23: the New York Times reports that Trump stalled nearly $400 million in aid for Ukraine before the July phone call.
- September 24: Trump announces he would release the transcript of the July call with Zelensky.
- September 24: Schiff says the whistleblower, through his or her lawyers, wants to speak directly with the House intelligence committee.
- September 24: The Washington Post reports that Pelosi plans a formal impeachment inquiry of Trump. Nearly 70% of House Democrats support opening the inquiry.
- September 24: Pelosi announces the House will begin a formal impeachment inquiry. “The actions taken to date by the president have seriously violated the Constitution,” she said from the Capitol.
- September 24: The Washington Post reports that senior officials tried to delay a phone call or meeting between Trump and Zelensky. They feared Trump would pressure Ukraine for damaging information on the Bidens.