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  Story Analyzer - House Impeachment Report - Exec Summary Section 1 (pp. 28-36)



The President Obstructed the Impeachment Inquiry by Instructing Witnesses and Agencies to Ignore Subpoenas for Documents and Testimony

An Unprecedented Effort to Obstruct an Impeachment Inquiry
Donald Trump is the first President in the history of the United States to seek to completely obstruct an impeachment inquiry undertaken by the House of Representatives under Article I of the Constitution, which vests the House with the" sole Power of Impeachment.'' He has publicly and repeatedly rejected the authority of Congress to conduct oversight of his actions and has directly challenged the authority of the House to conduct an impeachment inquiry into his actions regarding Ukraine.

President Trump ordered federal agencies and officials to disregard all voluntary requests for documents and defy all duly authorized subpoenas for records.
He also directed all federal officials in the Executive Branch not to testify-- even when compelled. No other President has flouted the Constitution and power of Congress to conduct oversight to this extent.

No President has claimed for himself the right to deny the House 's authority to conduct an impeachment proceeding, control the scope of a power exclusively vested in the House, and forbid any and all cooperation from the Executive Branch.
Even President Richard Nixon-- who obstructed Congress by refusing to turn over key evidence-- accepted the authority of Congress to conduct an impeachment inquiry and permitted his aides and advisors to produce documents and testify to Congressional committees.

Despite President Trump 's unprecedented and categorical commands, the House gathered overwhelming evidence of his misconduct from courageous individuals who were willing to follow the law, comply with duly authorized subpoenas, and tell the truth.
In response, the President engaged in a brazen effort to publicly attack and intimidate these witnesses.

If left unanswered, President Trump 's ongoing effort to thwart Congress ' impeachment power risks doing grave harm to the institution of Congress, the balance of power between our branches of government, and the Constitutional order that the President and every Member of Congress have sworn to protect and defend.

Constitutional Authority for Congressional Oversight and Impeachment
The House 's Constitutional and legal authority to conduct an impeachment inquiry is clear, as is the duty of the President to cooperate with the House 's exercise of this authority.

Article I of the U.S. Constitution gives the House of Representatives the" sole Power of Impeachment.''
The Framers intended the impeachment power to be an essential check on a President who might engage in corruption or abuse of power. Congress is empowered to conduct oversight and investigations to carry out its authorities under Article I. Because the impeachment power is a core component of the nation 's Constitutional system of checks and balances, Congress ' investigative authority is at its zenith during an impeachment inquiry.

The Supreme Court has made clear that Congress ' authority to investigate includes the authority to compel the production of information by issuing subpoenas, a power the House has delegated to its committees pursuant to its Constitutional authority to" determine the Rules of its Proceedings.''

Congress has also enacted statutes to support its power to investigate and oversee the Executive Branch.
These laws impose criminal and other penalties on those who fail to comply with inquiries from Congress or block others from doing so, and they reflect the broader Constitutional requirement to cooperate with Congressional investigations.

Unlike President Trump, past Presidents who were the subject of impeachment inquiries-- including Presidents Andrew Johnson, Richard Nixon, and Bill Clinton-- recognized and, to varying degrees, complied with information requests and subpoenas.
President Nixon, for example, agreed to let his staff testify voluntarily in the Senate Watergate investigation, stating:" All members of the White House Staff will appear voluntarily when requested by the committee. They will testify under oath, and they will answer fully all proper questions.''

President Nixon also produced documents in response to the House 's subpoenas as part of its impeachment inquiry, including more than 30 transcripts of White House recordings and notes from meetings with the President.
When President Nixon withheld tape recordings and produced heavily edited and inaccurate records, the House Judiciary Committee approved an article of impeachment for obstruction.

The President 's Categorical Refusal to Comply

Even before the House of Representatives launched its investigation regarding Ukraine, President Trump rejected the authority of Congress to investigate his actions, proclaiming," We 're fighting all the subpoenas,'' and" I have an Article II, where I have the right to do whatever I want as president.''

When the Intelligence, Oversight and Reform, and Foreign Affairs Committees began reviewing the President 's actions as part of the House 's impeachment inquiry, the President repeatedly challenged the legitimacy of the investigation in word and deed.
His rhetorical attacks appeared intended not only to dispute reports of his misconduct, but to persuade the American people that the House lacks authority to investigate the President.

On September 26, President Trump argued that Congress should not be" allowed'' to impeach him under the Constitution and that there" should be a way of stopping it-- maybe legally, through the courts.''
A common theme of his defiance has been his claims that Congress is acting in an unprecedented way and using unprecedented rules. However, the House has been following the same investigative rules that Republicans championed when they were in control.

On October 8, White House Counsel Pat Cipollone sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Chairmen of the investigating Committees confirming that President Trump directed his entire Administration not to cooperate with the House 's impeachment inquiry.

Mr. Cipollone wrote:" President Trump can not permit his Administration to participate in this partisan inquiry under these circumstances.''
Mr. Cipollone 's letter advanced remarkably politicized arguments and legal theories unsupported by the Constitution, judicial precedent, and more than 200 years of history. If allowed to stand, the President 's defiance, as justified by Mr. Cipollone, would represent an existential threat to the nation 's Constitutional system of checks and balances, separation of powers, and rule of law.

The President 's Refusal to Produce Any and All Subpoenaed Documents

Following President Trump 's categorical order, not a single document has been produced by the White House, the Office of the Vice President, the Office of Management and Budget, the Department of State, the Department of Defense, or the Department of Energy in response to 71 specific, individualized requests or demands for records in their possession, custody, or control.
These subpoenas remain in full force and effect. These agencies and offices also blocked many current and former officials from producing records directly to the Committees.

Certain witnesses defied the President 's sweeping, categorical, and baseless order and identified the substance of key documents.
For example, Ambassador Gordon Sondland attached ten exhibits to his written hearing testimony reflecting reproductions of certain communications with high-level Administration officials, including Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, former National Security Advisor John Bolton, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Secretary of Energy Rick Perry. Other witnesses identified numerous additional documents that the President and various agencies are withholding that are directly relevant to the impeachment inquiry.

Like the White House, the Department of State refused to produce a single document in response to its subpoena, even though there is no legal basis for the Department 's actions.
In fact, on November 22, the Department was forced to produce 99 pages of emails, letters, notes, timelines, and news articles to a non-partisan, nonprofit ethics watchdog organization pursuant to a court order in a lawsuit filed under the Freedom of Information Act( FOIA). Although limited in scope, this production affirms that the Department is withholding responsive documents from Congress without any valid legal basis.

The President 's Refusal to Allow Top Aides to Testify
No other President in history has issued an order categorically directing the entire Executive Branch not to testify before Congress, including in the context of an impeachment inquiry. President Trump issued just such an order.

As reflected in Mr. Cipollone 's letter, President Trump directed government witnesses to violate their legal obligations and defy House subpoenas-- regardless of their offices or positions.

President Trump even extended his order to former officials no longer employed by the federal government.
This Administration-wide effort to prevent all witnesses from providing testimony was coordinated and comprehensive.

At President Trump 's direction, twelve current or former Administration officials refused to testify as part of the House 's impeachment inquiry, ten of whom did so in defiance of duly authorized subpoenas:

Mick Mulvaney, Acting White House Chief of Staff

Robert B. Blair, Assistant to the President and Senior Advisor to the Chief of Staff

Ambassador John Bolton, Former National Security Advisor

John A. Eisenberg, Deputy Counsel to the President for National Security Affairs and Legal Advisor, National Security Council

Michael Ellis, Senior Associate Counsel to the President and Deputy Legal Advisor, National Security Council

Preston Wells Griffith, Senior Director for International Energy and Environment, National Security Council

• Dr. Charles M. Kupperman, Former Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, National Security Council

Russell T. Vought, Acting Director, Office of Management and Budget

Michael Duffey, Associate Director for National Security Programs, Office of Management and Budget

Brian McCormack, Associate Director for Natural Resources, Energy, and Science, Office of Management and Budget

T. Ulrich Brechbuhl, Counselor, Department of State

Secretary Rick Perry, Department of Energy

These witnesses were warned that their refusal to testify" shall constitute evidence that may be used against you in a contempt proceeding'' and" may be used as an adverse inference against you and the President.''

The President 's Unsuccessful Attempts to Block Other Key Witnesses

Despite President Trump 's orders that no Executive Branch employees should cooperate with the House 's impeachment inquiry, multiple key officials complied with duly authorized subpoenas and provided critical testimony at depositions and public hearings.
These officials not only served their nation honorably, but they fulfilled their oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States.

In addition to the President 's broad orders seeking to prohibit all Executive Branch employees from testifying, many of these witnesses were personally directed by senior political appointees not to cooperate with the House 's impeachment inquiry.
These directives frequently cited or enclosed copies of Mr. Cipollone 's October 8 letter conveying the President 's order not to comply.

For example, the State Department, relying on President Trump 's order, attempted to block Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch from testifying, but she fulfilled her legal obligations by appearing at a deposition on October 11 and a hearing on November 15.
More than a dozen current and former officials followed her courageous example by testifying at depositions and public hearings over the course of the last two months. The testimony from these witnesses produced overwhelming and clear evidence of President Trump 's misconduct, which is described in detail in the first section of this report.

The President 's Intimidation of Witnesses

President Trump publicly attacked and intimidated witnesses who came forward to comply with duly authorized subpoenas and testify about his misconduct, raising grave concerns about potential violations of criminal laws intended to protect witnesses appearing before Congressional proceedings.
For example, the President attacked:

Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, who served the United States honorably for decades as a U.S. diplomat and anti-corruption advocate in posts around the world under six different Presidents;
Ambassador Bill Taylor, who graduated at the top of his class at West Point, served as an infantry commander in Vietnam, and earned a Bronze Star and an Air Medal with a V device for valor;

Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, an active-duty Army officer for more than 20 years who earned a Purple Heart for wounds he sustained in an improvised explosive device attack in Iraq, as well as the Combat Infantryman Badge; and

Jennifer Williams, who is Vice President Mike Pence 's top advisor on Europe and Russia and has a distinguished record of public service under the Bush, Obama, and Trump Administrations.

The President engaged in this effort to intimidate these public servants to prevent them from cooperating with Congress ' impeachment inquiry.
He issued threats, openly discussed possible retaliation, made insinuations about their character and patriotism, and subjected them to mockery and derision-- when they deserved the opposite. The President 's attacks were broadcast to millions of Americans-- including witnesses ' families, friends, and coworkers.

It is a federal crime to intimidate or seek to intimidate any witness appearing before Congress.
This prohibition applies to anyone who knowingly" uses intimidation, threatens, or corruptly persuades'' another person in order to" influence, delay, or prevent the testimony of any person in an official proceeding.'' Violations of this law can carry a criminal sentence of up to 20 years in prison.

In addition to his relentless attacks on witnesses who testified in connection with the House 's impeachment inquiry, the President also repeatedly threatened and attacked a member of the Intelligence Community who filed an anonymous whistleblower complaint raising an" urgent concern'' that" appeared credible'' regarding the President 's conduct.
The whistleblower filed the complaint confidentially with the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community, as authorized by the relevant whistleblower law. Federal law prohibits the Inspector General from revealing the whistleblower 's identity. Federal law also protects the whistleblower from retaliation.

In more than 100 public statements about the whistleblower over a period of just two months, the President publicly questioned the whistleblower 's motives, disputed the accuracy of the whistleblower 's account, and encouraged others to reveal the whistleblower 's identity.
Most chillingly, the President issued a threat against the whistleblower and those who provided information to the whistleblower regarding the President 's misconduct, suggesting that they could face the death penalty for treason.

The President 's campaign of intimidation risks discouraging witnesses from coming forward voluntarily, complying with mandatory subpoenas for documents and testimony, and disclosing potentially incriminating evidence in this inquiry and future Congressional investigations.


Based on witness testimony and evidence collected during the impeachment inquiry, the Intelligence Committee has found that:

I. Donald J. Trump, the 45th President of the United States-- acting personally and through his agents within and outside of the U.S. government-- solicited the interference of a foreign government, Ukraine, in the 2020 U.S. presidential election.
The President engaged in this course of conduct for the benefit of his reelection, to harm the election prospects of a political opponent, and to influence our nation 's upcoming presidential election to his advantage. In so doing, the President placed his personal political interests above the national interests of the United States, sought to undermine the integrity of the U.S. presidential election process, and endangered U.S. national security

In furtherance of this scheme, President Trump-- directly and acting through his agents within and outside the U.S. government-- sought to pressure and induce Ukraine 's newly-elected president, Volodymyr Zelensky, to publicly announce unfounded investigations that would benefit President Trump 's personal political interests and reelection effort. To advance his personal political objectives, President Trump encouraged the President of Ukraine to work with his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani.

As part of this scheme, President Trump, acting in his official capacity and using his position of public trust, personally and directly requested from the President of Ukraine that the government of Ukraine publicly announce investigations into( 1) the President 's political opponent, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. and his son, Hunter Biden, and( 2) a baseless theory promoted by Russia alleging that Ukraine-- rather than Russia-- interfered in the 2016 U.S. election. These investigations were intended to harm a potential political opponent of President Trump and benefit the President 's domestic political standing.

President Trump ordered the suspension of$ 391 million in vital military assistance urgently needed by Ukraine, a strategic partner, to resist Russian aggression. Because the aid was appropriated by Congress, on a bipartisan basis, and signed into law by the President, its expenditure was required by law. Acting directly and through his subordinates within the U.S. government, the President withheld from Ukraine this military assistance without any legitimate foreign policy, national security, or anticorruption justification. The President did so despite the longstanding bipartisan support of Congress, uniform support across federal departments and agencies for the provision to Ukraine of the military assistance, and his obligations under the Impoundment Control Act.

V. President Trump used the power of the Office of the President and exercised his authority over the Executive Branch, including his control of the instruments of the federal government, to apply increasing pressure on the President of Ukraine and the Ukrainian government to announce the politically-motivated investigations desired by President Trump.
Specifically, to advance and promote his scheme, the President withheld official acts of value to Ukraine and conditioned their fulfillment on actions by Ukraine that would benefit his personal political interests:

A. President Trump-- acting through agents within and outside the U.S. government-- conditioned a head of state meeting at the White House, which the President of Ukraine desperately sought to demonstrate continued United States support for Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression, on Ukraine publicly announcing the investigations that President Trump believed would aid his reelection campaign.

B. To increase leverage over the President of Ukraine, President Trump, acting through his agents and subordinates, conditioned release of the vital military assistance he had suspended to Ukraine on the President of Ukraine 's public announcement of the investigations that President Trump sought.

C. President Trump 's closest subordinates and advisors within the Executive Branch, including Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Secretary of Energy J. Richard Perry, and other senior White House and Executive Branch officials had knowledge of, in some cases facilitated and furthered the President 's scheme, and withheld information about the scheme from the Congress and the American public.

In directing and orchestrating this scheme to advance his personal political interests, President Trump did not implement, promote, or advance U.S. anti-corruption policies. In fact, the President sought to pressure and induce the government of Ukraine to announce politically-motivated investigations lacking legitimate predication that the U.S. government otherwise discourages and opposes as a matter of policy in that country and around the world. In so doing, the President undermined U.S. policy supporting anticorruption reform and the rule of law in Ukraine, and undermined U.S. national security.

By withholding vital military assistance and diplomatic support from a strategic foreign partner government engaged in an ongoing military conflict illegally instigated by Russia, President Trump compromised national security to advance his personal political interests.

Faced with the revelation of his actions, President Trump publicly and repeatedly persisted in urging foreign governments, including Ukraine and China, to investigate his political opponent. This continued solicitation of foreign interference in a U.S. election presents a clear and present danger that the President will continue to use the power of his office for his personal political gain.

Using the power of the Office of the President, and exercising his authority over the Executive Branch, President Trump ordered and implemented a campaign to conceal his conduct from the public and frustrate and obstruct the House of Representatives ' impeachment inquiry by:

A. refusing to produce to the impeachment inquiry 's investigating Committees information and records in the possession of the White House, in defiance of a lawful subpoena;
B. directing Executive Branch agencies to defy lawful subpoenas and withhold the production of all documents and records from the investigating Committees;

C. directing current and former Executive Branch officials not to cooperate with the Committees, including in defiance of lawful subpoenas for testimony; and

D. intimidating, threatening, and tampering with prospective and actual witnesses in the impeachment inquiry in an effort to prevent, delay, or influence the testimony of those witnesses.

In so doing, and despite the fact that the Constitution vests in the House of Representatives the" sole Power of Impeachment,'' the President sought to arrogate to himself the right to determine the propriety, scope, and nature of an impeachment inquiry into his own misconduct, and the right to deny any and all information to the Congress in the conduct of its constitutional responsibilities.
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