WASHINGTON, USA – Here is a chronology of events in the Ukraine scandal, which has prompted the opening of an impeachment inquiry by the Democratic-led US House of Representatives into President Donald Trump:
Trump holds a 30-minute telephone conversation with Ukraine’s new president Volodymyr Zelensky, a former professional comedian who was elected in May.
The White House says Trump congratulated Zelensky on his election victory and they discussed ways to strengthen energy and economic cooperation.
Earlier in July, Trump -– without explanation – suspended hundreds of millions of dollars in military assistance to Ukraine which had been approved by Congress. The aid is eventually released by the White House on September 11.
An anonymous whistleblower in the US intelligence community files a complaint about the Trump-Zelensky call, describing it as a matter of “urgent concern.”
The complaint is examined by Michael Atkinson, Inspector General of the Intelligence Community (IC IG), who determines that it is credible and forwards it to Joseph Maguire, the acting Director of National Intelligence (DNI), for transmission to Congress.
Maguire – after consulting with White House and Justice Department lawyers – decides he is not required to forward it to Congress.
Atkinson then takes it upon himself to inform the congressional intelligence committees, telling them of the existence of the complaint in a September 9 letter.
The Washington Post publishes the first report about the whistleblower complaint, saying only that it involves a “promise” allegedly made by Trump to a foreign leader.
The story is short on details and makes no mention of Ukraine.
Adam Schiff, the Democratic chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, announces that IG IC Atkinson will testify behind closed doors about the handling of the complaint.
Atkinson testifies before the House Intelligence Committee, but declines to reveal the contents of the complaint, saying that DNI Maguire has barred him from doing so.
Trump reacts for the first time, calling the Post story “fake news” and stating that when he speaks with foreign leaders he is well aware that there are likely “many people” listening.
“Knowing all of this, is anybody dumb enough to believe that I would say something inappropriate with a foreign leader while on such a potentially ‘heavily populated’ call?” Trump says.
The New York Times and Washington Post simultaneously publish stories identifying Ukraine as the subject of the complaint.
Trump confirms that in his call with Zelensky, he discussed “corruption” and Joe Biden, his potential Democratic rival in the 2020 presidential election, along with Biden’s son, Hunter.
Hunter Biden served on the board of a Ukrainian gas company while his father was Barack Obama’s vice president, but has not been officially accused of any wrongdoing.
Amid a cascade of press reports that Trump had repeatedly pushed Zelensky to investigate the Bidens, Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic speaker of the House of Representatives, announces the opening of an impeachment inquiry.
“The actions of the Trump presidency revealed the dishonorable facts of the president’s betrayal of his oath of office, betrayal of our national security, and betrayal of the integrity of our elections,” Pelosi said.
“The president must be held accountable. No one is above the law,” she said.
Trump denounces the move, calling it “PRESIDENTIAL HARASSMENT,” and says he will release the transcript of the Zelensky call.
The White House releases a rough transcript of the July 25 Trump-Zelensky call.
It confirms that the president repeatedly asked the Ukrainian leader to investigate the Bidens and urged him to “look into” it with Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer, and with Attorney General Bill Barr.
The transcript did not show Trump explicitly tying military aid to Ukraine to Zelensky investigating the Bidens.
Trump, who is attending the UN General Assembly in New York, dismisses the impeachment inquiry as a “joke” and calls it a “manufactured crisis.”
The House Intelligence Committee releases the complaint by the intelligence community whistleblower.
The complaint accuses White House lawyers of seeking to restrict access to the transcript of the Trump-Zelensky call because of its politically sensitive nature.
“I have received information from multiple US government officials that the president of the United States is using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 US election,” the whistleblower wrote.
“In the days following the phone call, I learned from multiple U.S. officials that senior White House officials had intervened to ‘lock down’ all records of the phone call,” the whistleblower said.
House speaker Pelosi and several 2020 Democratic presidential candidates accuse the White House of engaging in a “cover up” by trying to suppress the record of the call. – Rappler.com