U.S. House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.) is demanding that the White House hand over documents pertaining to reports that President Trump pressed Ukraine to pursue an investigation that could influence the 2020 U.S. presidential election.
Cummings joined two other committee leaders – Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) and Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) – in sending a letter requesting that Trump’s attorney turn over the requested documents by Thursday.
“Any attempt by a President to use the office of the presidency of the United States for personal political gain – rather than the national interest – fundamentally undermines our sovereignty, democracy, and the Constitution,” the chairmen wrote.
Trump ordered his administration to hold back nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine just before a July phone call in which Trump reportedly pressured Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden’s son, The Washington Post reported. Trump confirmed Tuesday that he withheld aid, but said it was due to concerns that the United States was contributing more to Ukraine than European countries were, according to the Post.
“If the recent reports are accurate, it means the President raised with a foreign leader pursuing investigations related to a political opponent in an upcoming U.S. election,” Cummings and the other House chairmen wrote.
“That is the very definition of corrupt abuse of power. The corruption exists whether or not the President mentioned or threatened – explicitly or implicitly – that a lack of cooperation could result in the President withholding U.S. security assistance or other forms of assistance.”
The details of Trump’s conversation are reportedly part of a whistleblower complaint that Democrats want released to Congress. House Democratic leaders were set to meet later Tuesday afternoon to discuss strategy.
The Democrats have announced a hearing Thursday where Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire is slated to testify before the House Intelligence Committee. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in a letter to her colleagues that she expects him to turn over the whistleblower’s full complaint.
The records the chairmen are requesting include a transcript of Trump’s July 25 call with the Ukranian president.
“In light of these grave allegations, the President must immediately abandon his stonewalling of Congress and his refusal to submit to any scrutiny or examination of his actions,” the lawmakers wrote. “Failure to comply with our request will compel our Committees to resort to escalated measures.”