Democrats have a “real sense of urgency” about impeaching President Trump, House intelligence committee Chairman Adam Schiff said Wednesday as he and Speaker Nancy Pelosi updated reporters on the progress of their impeachment inquiry.
But Mrs. Pelosi also insisted Democrats won’t be defined by impeachment, saying her caucus is still trying to work on bills on prescription drug costs and is negotiating with the administration over a free trade agreement with Mexico and Canada.
The California Democrat pleaded with reporters to ask her questions about those issues — but even she couldn’t hold back from turning the conversation to impeachment, using a question about gun control to talk about Mr. Trump’s conversation with Ukraine’s president, which spurred Mrs. Pelosi to announce the impeachment process would begin.
“It’s not perfect, it’s wrong,” Mrs. Pelosi said of the president’s call, disputing Mr. Trump’s description of his effort to get Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden.
Mr. Schiff said Democrats won’t stand for delays in getting the information they are seeking from the White House and the administration, and he said the more obstruction they see, the more they’ll figure it’s an admission that allegations are true.
And he suggested the efforts to delay witnesses or documents from reaching Congress could become a cause for impeachment in and of itself.
“They will be strengthening the case on obstruction if they behave that way,” Mr. Schiff said.
Both he and Mrs. Pelosi rejected Mr. Trump’s demand to face his accuser, the anonymous whistleblower who exposed the call between Mr. Trump and the Ukrainian president, saying the law protects the person’s right to remain unknown.
And both lawmakers repeatedly said they would maintain a fair investigation — but also said they already see the call as grounds for impeachment.
“You have the president using the full power of his office to try to effectively coerce a foreign leader that is completely dependent on our country … to intervene in our election to help his campaign. It’s hard to imagine more corrupt conduct,” Mr. Schiff said.
“If this conduct doesn’t rise to the level of the concern the founders had, what conduct does?” he said.
“In that telephone call the president undermined our national security,” Mrs. Pelosi added.
She unilaterally declared last month that the House had begun an impeachment inquiry into the president.
On Wednesday she ruled out putting the matter up for a vote in the House — though she suggested she could win some GOP support for it, should she have moved ahead.
“There some Republicans that are very nervous about bringing that vote,” she said.
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