Nancy Pelosi impeachment probe, Trump tried to negotiate with Pelosi.
Shortly after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced a formal impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump on Tuesday, Trump reached out to her to negotiate, according to NBC News.
Trump told the California Democrat he’d like to “figure this out,” NBC News’ Heidi Przybyla reported. “Hey, can we do something about this whistleblower complaint, can we work something out?”
Pelosi apparently swatted him down with a curt response: “Tell your people to obey the law.”
The revelation is the latest in the back-and-forth between Trump and congressional Democrats as they fight over the whistleblower complaint filed against Trump in August.
The acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, is withholding the complaint from Congress despite the fact that Michael Atkinson, the intelligence community inspector general, determined that it’s “credible” and “urgent” and should therefore be turned over to Congress under federal law.
Maguire overruled Atkinson after consulting with the Justice Department and determined he was not required to turn over the complaint because it did not relate to an individual directly under the DNI’s purview. The decision was supported by White House counsel Pat Cipollone.
But the tide appears to have changed since Pelosi announced the formal impeachment inquiry on Tuesday, because Politico reported afterward that the White House is now preparing to release the complaint to Congress by the end of the week.
The shift indicates the seriousness with which the White House apparently views the impeachment proceedings, even as Trump decries them as a continuation of the “witch hunt” against him and his presidency. The White House’s decision also comes after the Senate unanimously voted in favor of a resolution calling for the complaint to be turned over to congressional intelligence committees.
At the center of the whistleblower complaint is a July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, during which Trump is said to have pressed Zelensky at least eight times to work with his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, to investigate the former vice president Joe Biden and his son, Hunter. The complaint also references a “promise” Trump made to Zelensky, according to reports, but it’s unclear what it was.
The unprecedented nature of Trump’s alleged request — asking a foreign country to manufacture dirt on a political opponent ahead of an election — set off alarms among Democrats and the national-security apparatus, and dozens of House Democrats came out in favor of impeachment as new details continued to spill out about the phone call.
The timing of the request also raised eyebrows. Specifically, Trump slammed the brakes on a nearly $400 million military aid package to Ukraine roughly one week before the phone call, The Washington Post reported. He released the aid on September 12, one day after House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff requested a full, unredacted version of the whistleblower’s complaint from Maguire.
The president confirmed on Tuesday and said he decided to withhold the aid days before the call with Zelensky, but he denied that it was part of any quid pro quo effort. Instead, he said his main concern with sending military assistance to Ukraine was that other countries haven’t been paying their fair share as well.
However, he appeared to acknowledge on Monday that the aid package was at least somewhat on his mind during the call with Zelensky.
“It’s very important to talk about corruption,” Trump said. “If you don’t talk about corruption, why would you give money to a country that you think is corrupt? It’s very important that on occasion, you speak to somebody about corruption.”
Pelosi slammed Trump’s actions on Tuesday as having “revealed the dishonorable fact of the president’s betrayal of his oath of office, betrayal of our national security, and betrayal of the integrity of our elections.”
She later told Democrats they have to “strike while the iron is hot.”
“This is a national security issue,” she said. “A national security issue, and we cannot let him think that this is a casual thing, so that’s where I’m at.”
Maguire, who is expected to testify before Schiff’s committee later this week, also released a statement in light of Tuesday’s developments.
“In light of recent reporting on the whistleblower complaint, I want to make clear that I have upheld my responsibility to follow the law every step of the way,” he said.
He added: “I am committed to protecting whistleblowers and ensuring every complaint is handled appropriately. I look forward to continuing to work with the Administration and Congress to find a resolution regarding this important matter.”
Following Pelosi’s announcement, the White House press secretary’s office released a statement condemning House Democrats.