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The Week In Impeachment News


We're about to begin a new week that promises to take the country into new political territory. Last Tuesday at 5 p.m., House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made an announcement that changed the landscape here in Washington.


NANCY PELOSI: Today, I'm announcing the House of Representatives moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Pressure had been building for days. Several news organizations reported that a whistleblower had filed a complaint alleging that the president had made an improper request in a phone call with a foreign leader.


GILES SNYDER: The Wall Street Journal is reporting that President Trump repeatedly pressured the president of Ukraine to help investigate the son of Joe Biden.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And at that time, President Trump was holding up hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to Ukraine. The reports about that call moved seven freshman Democrats with backgrounds in national security into the pro-impeachment camp. One was Representative Elissa Slotkin of Michigan, a former CIA analyst.


ELISSA SLOTKIN: I think for all seven of us, the idea that a sitting president would use security assistance from the United States to pressure and potentially extort the president of another country into giving him dirt on a political opponent is just beyond the pale.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: When Slotkin spoke to NPR, Congress still didn't have the whistleblower's complaint. The administration had stopped the inspector general of the intelligence community from sending it up to Capitol Hill. But the next morning - which was Wednesday, if you'd lost track - the public got another piece in the puzzle.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER #2: The Department of Justice and the White House have just released the transcript of the July 25 phone call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Zelenskiy where they...

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That rough transcript, based on notes taken by aides, showed that Trump did ask Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate former Vice President Biden, his potential 2020 rival, as well as Biden's son Hunter, who'd had business dealings in Ukraine.

Congressman Adam Schiff, the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, said the notes of the call were more damning for President Trump than he had imagined.


ADAM SCHIFF: Because what those notes reflect is a classic Mafia-like shakedown of a foreign leader.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: President Trump, in New York for the United Nations General Assembly, denied he had done anything wrong.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: You take a look at that call. It was perfect. I didn't do it. There was no quid pro quo.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Ukraine's president was also at the U.N., sitting next to Trump, looking uncomfortable. Zelenskiy told reporters he didn't want to get involved in U.S. elections. As for his July phone call with Trump...


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKIY: It was normal. We spoke about many things. And I - so I think, and you read it, that nobody push it - pushed me. Yes.

TRUMP: In other words, no pressure.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Fueling the Democrats' concern - the role of President Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who had met with Ukrainian officials, seeking information on the Bidens. He told Fox News the State Department asked him to look into the matter.


RUDY GIULIANI: I got all the memos, all the texts. They asked me to do it. I reported back to them, and they thanked me for the good work that I did.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: While Giuliani spent hours on the airwaves defending the president and attacking the Bidens, the House Intelligence Committee called acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire to testify about the matter. Democrats asked Maguire why he had delayed sending the whistleblower's complaint to Capitol Hill, as they said was required by law, why he alerted the White House and the Justice Department first.


JOSEPH MAGUIRE: I believe that everything here in this matter is totally unprecedented.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: By the time the hearing began Thursday morning, the whistleblower's complaint had been released, both to Congress and the public. Republicans on the committee noted that the whistleblower based much of the complaint not on his or her own observations, but on information reported by others. Ranking member Devin Nunes raised accusations of political bias.


DEVIN NUNES: Once again, the Democrats, their media mouthpieces and a cabal of leakers are ginning up a fake story with no regard to the monumental damage they're causing to our public institutions and to trust in government.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Acting DNI Maguire defended the whistleblower and the intelligence community's inspector general.


MAGUIRE: I believe that the whistleblower and the ICIG acted in good faith and followed the law every step of the way.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And the whistleblower had made another explosive revelation about the Trump-Zelenskiy call.


NOEL KING: This complaint also alleges that White House officials put details of this phone call onto a classified server because they were worried about the political implications.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: The whistleblower said the White House tried to, quote, "lock down all records of the phone call," despite the fact that the two leaders did not discuss sensitive national security matters. Several news outlets have reported that the White House also did this with notes from Trump's conversations with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee will now focus on the White House's handling of President Trump's conversations with foreign leaders and on the role of the State Department and Rudy Giuliani in the Ukraine affair. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.