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A tumultuous week in Washington marks the start of an intense new investigation into President Trump's Congress – and what could be a historic clash between the White House and Congress.
The outlines are now clear on the behavior that not one, including Trump, disputes: The president asked his Ukrainian counterpart to investigate the family of Vice President Joe Biden, a potential political contender in the 2020 presidential election.
If Trump was sanguine about corroborating this story – which made the White House an extraordinary issue on Wednesday on its own record of the conversation – House Democrats are asking for more questions before deciding how much further they can go, which they said could lead to impeachment.
Some of these issues were raised by the release Thursday of a secret complaint by an Intellige nce commissar who sparked the affair in Ukraine.
In this document, the complainant alleged that the mediators had previously told Ukrainian officials that a phone call or meeting between President Vladimir Zelensky and Trump would depend on "whether Zelensky is willing to play ball" with Trump.
"I do not know who delivered this message to the Ukrainian leadership, or when," the whistle added.
House Democrats want to know these people's identities and where their communications fit
Although Trump and his supporters say the White House bill for Trump's conversation with the President of Ukraine does not record "quid pro quo," the full picture is not clear.
An aide or diplomat told Kiev in advance that US military aid to Ukraine was suspended – as it was in the summer – as a prelude to a phone call that Trump could expect Zelensky to ask for  Zelensky did just that, according to the White House bill.
When he told Trump that Ukraine was "ready to continue cooperating" to buy more weapons from the US, it prompted Trump to ask him for a "service" that he hoped could lead to information about the Biden family.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-California, told reporters Thursday after hearing a complaint from employees that he wanted to find out who the intelligence inspector general was talking to in the Ukraine affair and then began to seek his witnesses to complete the story.
Inside the Family
The complaint also describes practices within the Whi te House of compartmentalizing accounts of potentially politically sensitive Trump calling for a separate closure system that restricts access even in the administration.
The system also includes records of other presidential transcripts, the complaint states.
People who have served in the White House in past administrations have stated that this is not a conventional practice.
When did it start and why? Does the secret system described in the complaint actually contain records of other presidential phone calls with foreign leaders that resemble Trump's with Zelensky? What did Trump say?
Trump has promised to be transparent about the affair in Ukraine. On Wednesday, he voluntarily released records of two other phone conversations with Ukrainian leaders with himself and Vice President Pence.
Trump also offered not to object to his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, speaking to congressional committees about the central role he
But if the past is a prologue, the White House may not want to cooperate much more with what Trump has and his supporters call the Democrats "a new witch hunt."
The administration does not regard Congressional documents or access to witnesses in response to many of its earlier requests related to the Russia investigation, Trump's trade deals and more.
Proponents of the president dismissed the valve of Ukraine as another "information war operation" against the president.  In the meantime, some of the disputes between the House and the administration are still going to court after the commissions have filed a case for the relevant materials. [1 9659008] What is not clear is whether theoretically bigger bets on Ukraine matter – what House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats have set the focus of what they believe is an impeachment inquiry – could prompt Trump changes his tune.
The White House has already invoked the privilege of the executive branch – a doctrine that allows the administration to protect some of its internal affairs from public view – by retaining some of Congressional witnesses and material.
The investigation that Schiff and his colleagues now want to pursue involves the internal functioning of the White House, the discussions of the National Security Council and other aides, diplomats and others, all within the executive branch.
If Giuliani, who works for Trump but not the government, is not covered by the privilege of the executive, many other people may be.
The executive privilege is already the subject of internal debates surrounding the offending case, Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire told the Schiff Commission on Thursday.
Will Pelosi and Schiff climb the wall that they cannot break? Or will the alleged impeachment threat prompt Trump to open the gates?
The Red Wall
Trump can rest assured that in the case of actual impeachment procedures – which would include the equivalent of an indictment in the House and then lead to his Senate process – he will continue to benefit from the support of enough Republicans to maintain the presidency.
It's been a Republican assumption so far, and as Washingtonians head to work Friday morning, the Senate red wall still looks solid.
Sometimes the president and his supporters seem to want to dare the Democrats to continue impeachment with the knowledge that they will lose, wishing that the fallout would actually be it will weaken Pelosi and its members and strengthen Trump and the Republicans.
Earlier this week, Pelosi seemed to be reading these policies in the same way, seeking to control the most aggressive Democrats in the House. Then stories of Trump's behavior broke the dam for so many of its members that the speaker joined them on Tuesday under the auspices of the I-word.
But Pelosi also did not indicate exactly what she, Schiff, and her other senior lieutenants might actually do differently, nor did she clarify how far Democrats were prepared to go.
This put the speaker in a precarious new confrontation with the president and the next phase in this melodrama may depend on who is first.