The Trump Impeachment Inquiry: What We Learned So Far Today
Less than a day after Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced an impeachment inquiry against President Trump, there are several big developments:
• A call log released by the White House shows Mr. Trump pushing the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, to consider investigating former Vice President Joe Biden.
• 白宫公布的通话记录显示，特朗普敦促乌克兰总统弗拉基米尔·泽伦斯基(Volodymyr Zelensky)考虑调查前副总统乔·拜登(Joe Biden)。
• A Justice Department official told The Times that after a whistle-blower raised concerns, two top intelligence officials referred the complaint for a possible criminal investigation into the president’s actions. The Justice Department concluded that there was no basis for a criminal investigation into Mr. Trump’s behavior.
• In the call, Mr. Trump alluded to American aid, while not explicitly linking his request to unfreezing it, the document shows: “I will say that we do a lot for Ukraine. We spend a lot of effort and a lot of time.”
The five-page document distributed by the White House includes a cautionary note indicating that it was “not a verbatim transcript” but instead was based on “notes and recollections of Situation Room Duty officers” and national security staff. Senior administration officials said voice recognition software was also used.
The scandal so far
Here’s what we know.
• Mr. Trump urged Mr. Zelensky to investigate Mr. Biden and his younger son, Hunter — both directly and through Rudolph Giuliani, one of Mr. Trump’s personal lawyers. Mr. Biden is a leading candidate to be the Democratic Party’s 2020 presidential nominee.
• 特朗普敦促泽伦斯基调查拜登和他的小儿子亨特——除了直接调查，还通过特朗普的私人律师之一鲁道夫·朱利安尼(Rudolph Giuliani)进行调查。拜登是竞逐民主党2020年总统提名人的领先候选人。
• As vice president, Mr. Biden pushed the Ukrainian government in 2015 to fire its top prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, whom the U.S. and other Western nations saw as an obstacle to reform because he failed to bring corruption cases. At the time, Mr. Biden’s son sat on the board of a Ukrainian energy company, Burisma Holdings.
• 时任副总统的拜登曾在2015年敦促乌克兰政府将总检察长维克多·绍金(Viktor Shokin)撤职，由于没有发起腐败检控，此人被美国和其他西方国家认为在阻碍改革。当时，拜登的儿子是乌克兰能源公司布里斯玛控股(Burisma Holdings)的董事。
• Mr. Trump and his allies have insinuated, without evidence, that Mr. Biden was trying to protect the company from prosecution. An investigation into him, even if it were unfounded and turned up no evidence of a crime, could damage his campaign prospects by suggesting wrongdoing.
• The White House froze more than $391 million in military assistance to Ukraine this summer; it had been intended to help Ukraine defend itself from Russian territorial aggression. Mr. Trump has given conflicting explanations for the freeze.
• An intelligence official filed a whistle-blower complaint last month about the president’s actions. The inspector general for the intelligence community deemed the complaint “credible” and “urgent” and forwarded it to the acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, under a law that says such complaints must be shown to Congress within a week.
• 一名情报官员上月检举了总统的行为。情报部门监察长认为这一投诉“可信”、“紧急”，并将其转交给国家情报代总监约瑟夫·马奎尔(Joseph Maguire)。根据一项法律，此类投诉必须在一周内提交国会。
• Mr. Maguire refused to share the complaint with Congress, saying the Justice Department disagreed with the inspector general’s conclusion that its subject matter was covered under the law that requires disclosing such complaints to Congress.
• The complaint’s full details remain a mystery, as does the whistle-blower’s identity.
• Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s announcement on Tuesday that the House was beginning an impeachment inquiry was momentous, but practically, it didn’t change very much. In fact, the House Judiciary Committee had already opened a related inquiry in July.
• Six House committees are pursuing investigations of political malfeasance. They will bring that evidence to the Judiciary Committee, which could then recommended articles of impeachment to the full House.
• There’s a distinct possibility that the House, now controlled by Democrats, will vote to impeach President Trump.
• But when the case goes to the Senate, the president has an advantage. With the chamber under Republican control, and a two-thirds vote needed to remove him from office, that seems unlikely to happen, at least for the moment.
What are the Republicans saying?
Republican lawmakers and the president stuck to their position that Mr. Trump didn’t offer Mr. Zelensky any inducements or threaten him. “From a quid pro quo aspect, there’s nothing there,” said Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. Some Republican leaders tried to shift attention to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, accusing her of “trying to weaken the president.”
Impeachment does not remove a president from office; it’s more akin to an indictment on charges of “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” Here’s the process:
• House committees that are investigating the president on impeachable offenses will send their strongest cases to the Judiciary Committee.
• If the evidence is deemed sufficient, the House holds a floor vote on one or more articles of impeachment.
• If a majority of House members vote to impeach, the case moves to the Senate, which holds a trial and then votes on whether to convict the president. A two-thirds majority is required to remove the president from office.