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Trump’s Biden-Ukraine Request Could Shift Impeachment

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All this could reinvigorate an impeachment drive that has appeared to be sputtering. A good chunk of Pelosi’s caucus was already chafing at her reluctance to push forward. The Ukraine episode will inevitably create a new front in the oversight wars, with Congress demanding to see transcripts of exactly what Trump has been saying in these calls. This wasn’t an incident from two or three years ago that Congress has obsessed over; this was July.

Talking to reporters in the Oval Office today, Trump didn’t dispute that he spoke to his Ukrainian counterpart about Biden. Indeed, in reference to Biden’s attempts as vice president to get Ukraine’s chief prosecutor fired, Trump said: “Somebody ought to look into that.” (Biden wanted the prosecutor, who had at one time investigated the gas company, dismissed from his office as part of a broader push against corruption in Ukraine.)

If Trump’s call for Ukraine’s assistance sounds familiar, it should. During the 2016 election, he called on Russia to unearth emails missing from his rival Hillary Clinton’s computer server. He made that plea in public, during a press conference, but it now seems an eerie foreshadow of the Ukraine request. “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Trump said. Later that same day, Russian hackers made an effort to penetrate the server.

Almost a year later, Special Counsel Robert Mueller was appointed, in part, to investigate whether the Trump campaign conspired with Russia to defeat Clinton, an investigation that shadowed Trump’s presidency and upset him to no end. But if today’s multiple press reports are right, it seems he learned little from the ordeal.

Though, really, that’s been evident for a while: In an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos in June, Trump said that if foreign powers offered him damaging information about political opponents, he might well take a look without alerting the FBI. “I think you might want to listen,” he said. “There isn’t anything wrong with listening.”

Rank-and-file Democrats have been inching toward impeachment proceedings against the wishes of the House leadership. Through the summer, a steady stream of lawmakers publicly announced their support for the president’s removal. The House Judiciary Committee only just began its impeachment investigation, hauling the president’s former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski into a hearing earlier this week. Lawmakers have largely been re-plowing old ground, sifting through the Mueller report, trying to obtain Trump’s taxes, and investigating how he’s benefited financially through the presidency.

Last month, Pelosi told fellow Democrats on a conference call that “the public isn’t there on impeachment.” Yet in her statement today she sounded a more ominous note: “If the President has done what has been alleged, then he is stepping into a dangerous minefield with serious repercussions for his administration and our democracy.”

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