Opinion polls showed noticeable changes in their attitude to impeachment, although each poll asked for impeachment in a different way.
USA Today

WASHINGTON – At the time, disclosure was offered almost as a footnote to the explosive content of a phone call in which President Donald Trump pressured his Ukrainian counterpart to investigate political rival Joe Biden.

As a summary of the call was released by the White House last month, senior Justice Department officials who spoke on condition that they were not identified said prosecutors had examined whether the request of President of Ukraine Vladimir Zelensky was a potential crime. [19659005] The review made at the request of the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community was narrow.

It was based entirely on a written summary of the call, which even the White House cited as imperfect. Authorities did not conduct interviews to find out why an offender took the extraordinary step of bringing the inspector general to the national intelligence agencies.

Russia probe: The DOJ's investigation into the origin of the Russia investigation goes to a criminal investigation

And it only took weeks for prosecutors to conclude that there was no violation of campaign finance law.

Yet, in the month since this decision was made public, the fast-paced impeachment investigation and the separate criminal investigation raise serious questions about the Justice Department's assessment of the President's behavior.

"In the background, the prosecutors' decision was premature and ill-considered," says Richard Ben-Venist, one of Watergate's prosecutors, "The information provided by the whistleblowers called for further investigation."

Justice Department officials say Attorney General William Bar, whose assistance Trump offered to Zelensky, is not the one who decided to deny the investigation.

But lawmakers and former prosecutors claim that his close relationship with Trump threatens the independence of the agency since the president faces his greatest threat.

These suspicions are likely to deepen after news emerged Thursday night that the Justice Department has moved an internal check on the origin of the investigation in Russia – which Trump often dismisses as a "witch hunt" – to a criminal case.

Read the summary: President Trump's call with the President of Ukraine on Biden

Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff, D-Calif., Who leads the investigation impeachment said the Justice Department's decision not to release an investigation based on the offender's complaint, which effectively forced Congress to look into the matter itself.

In just four weeks, House Democrats pulled convincing testimony from current and former administration officials who support their central argument for Trump's removal: that White House hangs up on military aid and a meeting with the president in an attempt to get Ukraine to investigate Biden and his son Hunter Biden

"Unlike past impeachment proceedings in which Congress has benefited from an investigation conducted secretly by an independent prosecutor, we must conduct the initial investigation ourselves," if last week, citing Watergate investigators who prosecuted Richard Nixon and prosecutors in Whitewater who examined Bill Clinton.

"That's right," he said, "because the Bill Bar Justice Department specifically declined. to investigate the matter after a criminal complaint has gone crazy. "

Chaotic scene: GOP protest temporarily suspends the deposition of defense officer Laura Cooper

" I would like you to do service "

It is unlawful for a political candidate to request or receive any price but from a foreign source. Justice officials said they decided not to move forward with an investigation to fund the campaign, as they concluded that the president's request for an investigation had no measurable value. The conclusion, officials said, was made by Criminal Division Chief Brian Benchkovski.

"The Criminal Division of the department reviewed the official record of the call and determined, on the basis of the facts and applicable law, that there was no breach of campaign financing and no further action was justified," a Justice Department statement said last

The Department also concluded that the offender's complaint should not be shared with Congress, creating a dispute between the two branches of government.

The complaint of the whistleblowers has since been confirmed by closed-door testimony suggesting that Trump and his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, have long worked to secure Ukraine, not as a result of Russian aggression, but as part of a presidential re-election strategy.

President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky at the UN summit in New York on September 25, 2019 (Photo: Saul Loeb / AFP via Getty Image)

"A number of necessary questions My answer, and the relevant people interviewed, "said Ben-Venice, the prosecutor in the Watergate. Such as: "Who participated in the conversation about President Trump in Ukraine before this call (with Zelensky) and whether the" request "the president made was addressed by the State Department or our ambassador to Ukraine."

Three House committees are asking these questions now. Marathon sessions have been indicative of a series of witnesses.

"Crazy" and "hand grenade": Here's how the House impeachment witnesses elements of Trump's policy in Ukraine

Last week Gordon Sundland, the highest a US diplomat in Europe, acknowledged that Trump delegated Ukraine's policy to a large extent to Giuliani rather than to State Department careers.

On Tuesday, William Taylor, Trump's top diplomat in Ukraine, told lawmakers that he understood that the release of hundreds of millions of dollars of US military assistance depended on the Ukrainian government, which publicly announced it would investigate the allegations.

Neither the former Vice President nor his son has been accused of misconduct by the Ukrainian government.


Republicans violated a closed-door deposition Wednesday with a Department of Defense official who had to answer questions as part of a House impeachment investigation against President Donald Trump. (October 23)

These efforts to return to the top ended in a telephone conversation on July 25 between Trump and Zelensky. After the Ukrainian president said he wanted to buy more military equipment from the US, Trump moved the conversation with this comment: "I would like you to do us a favor."

The announcement was clear, said Patrick Cotter, a former federal prosecutor.

"Everyone over the age of 12 knows that what the president has been looking for is something of great personal value; it is very valuable to get opposition research on your opponent, Cotter said. "Ask any political consultant what they are accused of. In this case, multiply that by 1000. "


The obstruction of the US president may not be the most extreme of their careers. We explain why.
Simple Frequently Asked Questions USA Today

Robert Ray, who was an independent advocate in President Bill Clinton's Whitewater investigation, defended the Justice Department's decision not to take the referral of the Inspector General.

"You can argue that everything the president does is potentially in his political favor," Ray said. "It would be very difficult to turn this (Zelensky's call) into some kind of political contribution. This is a ridiculous argument.

Regardless of what the Ministry of Justice only concluded on the basis of a telephone conversation," testimony and text messages already there is new evidence, "Cotter said." New evidence is always a valid reason to review the opening of an investigation. "

Restraint investigation: Trump's ambassador is disappointed by the influence of Rudy Giuliani in the politics of Ukraine

Key assumptions: Ukraine diplomat Bill Taylor's "explosive" introductory statement

Asked whether the Justice Department was reviewing the issue of the new disclosures, an official referred to an initial statement from the department stating that "no further action was taken."

However, he stated that the decision not to conduct a campaign finance investigation would not prevent authorities to review other issues related to end if they are justified for investigation.

The official declined to comment on whether such reviews were being conducted.

probe for Ukraine: federal investigators have been looking at Giuliani's deals in Ukraine since early 2019.

"Me too

The moment Trump closed with Zelensky, he he probably did not expect even a summary of the call to be made public. But when it did, the president put the Justice Department – and Bar – in a unique predicament.

During the 30-minute conversation, Trump repeatedly offered the attorney general and Julian's assistance in initiating the Bidens investigation. Trump referred to the attorney general by name or title four times.

"I'm going to get Mr. Giuliani to call you, and I'll also have to call Attorney General Bar and get to the end of it," Trump said after falsely suggesting that former Vice President Biden stopped investigating of a Ukrainian energy company while Hunter Biden was a board member.

On Earth in Ukraine: Trump's conspiracy theories are flourishing. in Ukraine, where young democracy fights corruption and mistrust

The Justice Department says Bar knew nothing about Trump's petitions until weeks later and did not communicate with Ukrainian officials. However, Trump's comments raised new questions about the Attorney General's independence from the White House.

These criticisms were leveled for the first time earlier this year when Bar announced that no obstruction charges based on the investigation of special counsel Robert Mueller for Russian election interference were justified against the president.

The chairman of the Judiciary Committee of Jerry Nadler, New York, immediately called on Bar to withdraw from future consideration of any matter relating to Ukraine. This has not happened.

Justice Department officials and Bar supporters have scoffed at the suggestion that the attorney general has been compromised. Earlier this month, federal agents arrested two Giuliani associates on campaign finance charges. The couple has been helping Julian in his campaign to pressure Ukrainian officials to investigate Biden's family, though the allegations are unrelated to those efforts.

"Blurring Campaign": Associates of Giuliani Parnassus and Fruman plead not guilty to campaign finance charges

Berman, whose office has long enjoyed a measure of independence from Washington.

A Justice Department official said Bar was briefed on the investigation shortly after he took over the attorney general in February. He was signaled prior to the arrest of the men at Dulles International Airport while boarding a one-way flight to Europe.

"A public servant has as much an obligation not to self-assemble but to assert himself."

Michael Mukasey, a former attorney general during the George W. Bush administration

Michael Mukasey, a former attorney general during the George W. Bush administration has said Bar should not be punished because he does not know that Trump mentioned it in Zelensky's call. He believes the Justice Department has made the right call not to launch a campaign finance investigation.

"There is no ground for cancellation," said Mukasey, a close ally of Bar. "This does not create a real conflict because someone (Trump) is hallucinating. That must be the end of it. A government official has as much an obligation not to govern himself as to assert himself."

Bruce Udolf runs the Clinton Whitewater Investigation as an associate freelance lawyer. He disagrees with Mukashi's conclusions.

"The decision of justice should come as no surprise," Udolf said. "This administration has tried to intimidate the FBI and tried to evade the Justice Department. The Justice Department must do what Congress does now. It just doesn't pass the direct-person test."

Autoplay [19659071] Show thumbnails

Show captions