WASHINGTON -- Some Democratic lawmakers who have been reluctant to push for an impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump appeared to warm to the idea after Trump admitted to a July conversation with his Ukrainian counterpart about investigating a company linked to the son of Joe Biden.
House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff of California suggested Sunday that the House may have "crossed the Rubicon" as new revelations about Trump's conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky emerged in media reports. Until now leadership in the Democrat-controlled House has been ambiguous about whether it is pursuing an impeachment investigation against the president.
"I have been very reluctant to go down the path of impeachment," Schiff said in an interview on CNN. "But if the president is essentially withholding military aid at the same time he is trying to browbeat a foreign leader into doing something illicit, providing dirt on his opponent during a presidential campaign, then that may be the only remedy that is coequal to the evil that that conduct represents."
Trump on Monday acknowledged that he talked to Ukraine's Zelensky, a former comedian-turned-politician, about that country's government investigating the involvement of Biden's son with a Ukrainian energy company.
The president also suggested that reports he was dangling a $250 million military aid package to the country in exchange for an investigation had merit. Ukraine is fighting Russian-backed separatists in its eastern region.
"It's very important to talk about corruption. If you don't talk about corruption, why would you give money to a country that you think is corrupt?" he told reporters at a U.N. General Assembly meeting in New York, appearing to confirm he wanted to trade a probe for an aid package to Ukraine. "It's very important that on occasion you speak to somebody about corruption."
Schiff has been the Democrats' point man in their efforts to obtain a whistleblower complaint regarding the call.
The White House and acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire have blocked the release of the complaint to Congress. That has allowed the president and his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, to try shape a narrative about the circumstances surrounding the call, which Trump has said others were listening to.
Giuliani has freely admitted he had multiple conversations with Ukrainian officials about his contention that while Biden was vice president, he persuaded the Ukrainian government to drop an investigation into a company linked to one of Biden's sons. Giuliani claimed on CNN last Thursday that there was nothing inappropriate about his conversations with Ukrainian officials.
Revelations about the whistleblower complaint have reignited the pleas of vocal progressives in the Democratic caucus who have for months pressured the party brass to more officially and vigorously pursue impeachment.