Democrats also accuse Trump of dispatching his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani to pressure Ukrainian officials to launch the probes. They said Trump sought to further pressure Zelensky by ordering a freeze on $391 million in military aid meant for Ukraine and by refusing a White House visit for Zelensky intended to broadcast U.S. support for an ally at war with Russia.
In directing the alleged scheme, Democrats said, Trump “betrayed” the country and violated his oath of office — a claim that forms the basis of the first article of impeachment: abuse of power. In a separate report issued earlier this week, the House Judiciary Committee went further, writing that Trump committed criminal bribery and wire fraud as part of a monthslong scheme to solicit foreign interference in a U.S. election. Republicans have pointed out that neither charge appears in the text of the impeachment articles.
When Democrats began investigating the matter, Trump directed senior officials to defy subpoenas and refuse to appear for testimony or to provide documents. The second impeachment article — obstruction of Congress — describes these actions as an unprecedented assault on the House’s impeachment power and an attempt to skirt accountability.
The two articles of impeachment were the product of weeks of agonizing debate inside the Democratic Caucus about which “high crimes and misdemeanors” to bring to the floor. A swath of the Democratic Caucus had hoped to include obstruction of justice as a third charge, based primarily on Mueller’s findings, but Pelosi and other House leaders viewed the Ukraine scandal as a simpler and more compelling narrative to explain to Americans.
Lawmakers first learned of the Ukraine allegations when the White House intervened to block a whistleblower complaint from reaching the House Intelligence Committee in early September. Soon after, the committee launched an aggressive and fast-paced investigation that included depositions from 17 State Department, Pentagon and White House officials as well as a series of public hearings that unearthed a mountain of evidence supporting the allegations against Trump.
While many Democrats have been eager to impeach Trump since his inauguration, the majority of House Democrats took their cues from Pelosi, who routinely and swiftly suppressed the energy for impeachment — spurred mostly by progressive activists — during the first months of the House Democratic majority.