5 things you need to know about the impeachment inquiry

Here's what you need to know about the impeachment inquiry involving President Trump, including a whistleblower complaint that was released by the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday.

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/ Source: TODAY
By Scott Stump

A whistleblower complaint filed by an intelligence officer concerned with President Donald Trump's interactions with Ukraine was released on Thursday in the latest development involving the impeachment inquiry against the president.

Here are five things you need to know about the impeachment inquiry launched by Speaker Nancy Pelosi this week, following claims that Trump may have withheld aid to Ukraine in order to pressure officials there to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son.

What is in the whistleblower complaint?

An anonymous whistleblower filed a complaint that relates to a phone call on July 25 between Trump and President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, according to NBC News.

The House Intelligence Committee on Thursday released the declassified complaint on Thursday, with minimal redactions. You can read the full text at NBC News.

What did Trump say on the phone call?

The White House released a five-page memo on Wednesday detailing the phone conversation with Zelensky.

Trump, who a week earlier had frozen about $400 million in military aid to Ukraine, told Zelensky, "I will say that we do a lot for Ukraine. We spend a lot of effort and a lot of time."

When Zelensky then expressed interest in buying more military equipment, Trump replied by saying, "I would like you to do us a favor though..."

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He then asked for an investigation into the origins of the FBI inquiry into Russia's 2016 election interference and later asked Zelensky to "look into" Democratic rival Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, who used to sit on the board for a Ukraine energy company. There has been no evidence Biden did anything wrong.

Trump said he would direct his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, as well as Attorney General William Barr to contact Zelensky to help with a possible investigation. The Justice Department says Trump never spoke to Barr about the request.

Trump pushed back against the impeachment inquiry at a news conference on Wednesday.

"It's a joke,'' he said. "Impeachment for that? When you have a wonderful meeting or you have a wonderful phone conversation."

What are Democrats saying?

After reviewing the notes of the July phone call released by the White House, Pelosi said it "confirms this behavior which undermines the integrity of our election. the dignity of the presidency and our national security."

A tally by NBC News found that 219 Democrats and one independent — a majority in the 435-member House of Representatives — support some type of impeachment action against Trump.

Biden also reacted to the impeachment inquiry in an appearance on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" Wednesday night.

"It's such a blatant abuse of power that I don't think it can stand,'' he said. "It's awful hard to avoid the conclusion that it is an impeachable offense. And a violation of constitutional responsibility."

What are Republicans saying?

Several Republican congressmen have echoed Trump's defense, saying he didn't offer Zelensky any favors or threaten him.

"From a quid pro quo aspect, there’s nothing there,” Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said. "From my point of view, to impeach any president over a phone call like this would be insane."

However, some Republicans have expressed concerns.

"I did read the transcript," Utah Sen. Mitt Romney said. "It remains troubling in the extreme. It's deeply troubling."

Mike Murphy, a former senior adviser to Romney and late Republican presidential nominee John McCain, told MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell that "one Republican senator told me if it was a secret vote, 30 Republican senators would vote to impeach Trump."

What happens next?

Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire, who refused to turn over the whistleblower complaint last month on the advice of the Justice Department, is set to testify publicly about that decision before the House Intelligence Committee Thursday morning.

There are also six committees in the House of Representatives investigating allegations of political misconduct, which could become recommended articles of impeachment if the Judiciary Committee decides the evidence is worthy.