The Kremlin said Monday that transcripts of calls between Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin can only be published by mutual agreement.
The White House has severely restricted the distribution of memos detailing Trump’s calls with foreign leaders, including Putin.
Asked about Congress’ push for the publication of Putin-Trump calls, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov responded that ‘the publication is possible only on mutual accord.’
‘If we receive some signals from the U.S., we will consider it,’ he said in a conference call with reporters.
Peskov noted that the ‘diplomatic practice doesn’t envisage such publications,’ adding that the issue is U.S. internal business.
The rough transcript of Trump’s call with Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky, which was released by the White House, is now the focus of a U.S. impeachment probe. It showed Trump urging Ukraine to ‘look into’ his Democratic political rival Joe Biden.
Congress is determined to get access to Donald Trump ‘s calls with Russian President Vladimir Putin (pictured together at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders’ summit in the central Vietnamese city of Danang on November 11, 2017)
Democrats in Congress are determined to get access to Trump’s calls with Putin and other world leaders, the chairman of the U.S. House Intelligence Committee said on Sunday, citing concerns the Republican president may have jeopardized national security.
‘I think the paramount need here is to protect the national security of the United States and see whether in the conversations with other world leaders and in particular with Putin that the president was also undermining our security in a way that he thought would personally benefit his campaign,’ Democrat Adam Schiff said on NBC’s Meet the Press.
Congress is investigating a whistleblower complaint that said Trump solicited a political favor from Ukraine’s president that could help him get re-elected to a second term next year. Democrats say Trump’s actions jeopardized national security and the integrity of U.S. elections.
The whistleblower’s complaint cited a telephone call in which Trump asked President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to launch an investigation of former Vice President Joe Biden, a leader among Democrats seeking to challenge Trump in 2020, and his son Hunter. Hunter Biden sat on the board of a Ukrainian gas company.
The July 25 phone call came shortly after the United States froze nearly $400 million in aid to Ukraine, prompting concern that Trump was using the taxpayer money already approved by Congress as leverage for his personal political gain.
The complaint said White House lawyers directed that an electronic summary of the call be moved from the place where such things are usually kept to a secret server reserved for covert matters.
‘If those conversations with Putin or with other world leaders are sequestered in that same electronic file that is meant for covert action, not meant for this, if there’s an effort to hide those and cover those up, yes we’re determined to find out,’ Schiff said on NBC.
Schiff did not say whether he plans to subpoena that information. The White House did not respond to a request for comment on Schiff’s statement that he wanted access to the call summaries.’
‘I think the paramount need here is to protect the national security of the United States,’ Democrat Adam Schiff said on NBC’s Meet the Press
The Ukraine scandal cast a shadow over Trump’s presidency just months after the conclusion of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of whether the Trump campaign worked with Russia to help him win the 2016 presidential election.
That investigation concluded that Moscow waged a social media and propaganda campaign aimed at putting Trump in the White House. The Mueller report, released in April, laid out numerous contacts between Russian officials and Trump’s campaign, but found no evidence of a criminal conspiracy.
The Ukraine matter prompted Democratic House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi to launch an impeachment inquiry against Trump on Tuesday.
Polls show an increase in support for Trump’s impeachment last week, and Democrats say they think voters are turning their way. Republican leaders maintain the inquiry will backfire.
Trump says there was nothing wrong with his phone call with the Ukrainian leader and denounced the whistleblower as a ‘political hack.’
White House adviser Stephen Miller took up the attack on Sunday, accusing the whistleblower of being part of a ‘deep state’ government conspiracy to foment opposition to Trump.
‘I know the difference between a whistleblower and a ‘deep state’ operative. This is a ‘deep state’ operative pure and simple,’ he told ‘Fox News Sunday.’
Trump’s Republican supporters in Congress defended the president’s actions on Sunday TV news shows. ‘I have zero problems with this phone call,’ Senator Lindsey Graham said on CBS”https://www.dailymail.co.uk/”Face the Nation.’
The whistleblower’s complaint was deemed credible by the inspector general of the U.S. intelligence community and the acting director of national intelligence told lawmakers the person ‘acted in good faith’ and ‘did the right thing.’
The intelligence committee has reached an agreement with the whistleblower to appear before the panel, Schiff told ABC’s ‘This Week.’ Schiff said he hoped it would be very soon.
Lawmakers were working out logistics to protect the person’s identity and get security clearance for lawyers who represent the whistleblower. A person close to the whistleblower said on Sunday many issues remained to be worked out.
House committees on Friday issued a subpoena to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for documents concerning contact with the Ukrainian government. They also scheduled depositions for five State Department officials.
Schiff said Trump’s personal lawyer, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, appeared to lay the foundation for Trump’s call to Zelenskiy through his efforts to encourage Ukrainian authorities to investigate the Biden family.
Schiff told ABC his committee would decide whether to have Giuliani testify after the investigation fleshes out details of his involvement.
Giuliani said on Sunday he would testify with Trump’s approval.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT? THE VERY COMPLICATED STEPS INVOLVED IN IMPEACHING DONALD TRUMP
Nancy Pelosi announcing a formal impeachment investigation is only the start of what will be an epic legal and constitutional clash.
Here is how impeachment goes from here.
1) Investigations step up
Six committees are now tasked by Pelosi with investigating Donald Trump with the intention of deciding whether he should be impeached. They are the House Judiciary, Oversight, Intelligence, Ways and Means, Financial Services and Foreign Affairs committees. All of them are now likely to issue a flurry of subpoenas which is certain to lead to a new:
2) Court battle over subpoenas – which could go to the Supreme Court
The Trump administration has so far resisted subpoenas by claiming executive privilege and is certain to continue to do so. Federal judges are already dealing with litigation over subpoenas for Trump’s tax and financial records and many more cases are likely to follow. But the courts have never settled the limits of executive privilege and whether an impeachment inquiry effectively gives Congress more power to overcome it. If Trump fights as hard as he can, it is likely to make its way to the Supreme Court. In the meantime, expect:
3) More hearings
Democrats know they need to convince the public that Trump needs to be put on trial and the best way to do that is hearings like those which electrified the nation during Watergate. They botched the Mueller hearing but if they produce question and answer sessions with people from Trump-world which cause public outrage, they are on their way to:
4) Drawing up formal articles of impeachment in committee
The charge sheet for impeachment – the ‘articles’ – set out what Trump is formally accused of. It has no set format – it can be as long or as short as Congress decides. Three such set of articles have been drawn up – for Andrew Johnson on 1868, Richard Nixon in 1974, and Bill Clinton in 1998. Johnson’s were the most extensive at 11, Nixon faced three, and Bill Clinton four but with a series of numbered charges in each article. Once drawn up, the judicial committee votes on them and if approved, sends them to the House for:
5) Full floor vote on impeachment
The constitution says the House needs a simple majority to proceed, but has to vote on each article. Nixon quit before such a vote so Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton are the only precedent. The House passed two out of the three articles against Clinton and all 11 against Johnson. Passing even one article leads to:
6) Senate impeachment trial
Even if the Senate is clearly not in favor of removing the president, it has to stage a trial if the House votes for impeachment. The hearing is in not in front of the full Senate, but ‘evidentiary committees’ – in theory at least similar to the existing Senate committees. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court presides over it, but the procedures are set by senators. Members of the House prosecute Trump as ‘managers,’ bringing witnesses and presenting evidence to set out their case against the president. The president can defend himself, or, as Clinton did, use attorneys to cross-examine the witnesses. The committee or committees report to the full Senate. Then it can debate in public or deliberate in private on the guilt or innocence of the president. It holds a single open floor vote which will deliver:
7) The verdict
Impeachment must be by two-thirds of the Senate. Voting for impeachment on any one article is good enough to remove the president from office. There is no appeal.