The Republican-controlled Senate on Tuesday unanimously passed a non-binding resolution calling on the Trump administration to release a complaint by a whistleblower from the intelligence community concerning President Donald Trump’s conduct with a foreign leader.
The measure, introduced by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), expresses the sense of the Senate that the complaint, which the intelligence community’s inspector general deemed of “urgent concern,” ought to be provided to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees.
The lack of any GOP objections to the resolution ― a single senator could have sidelined it ― was an unexpected development on a day where calls for impeachment swelled in both the House and Senate. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who himself often blocks such Democratic unanimous consent requests, panned the effort in a speech as a “made-for-TV moment,” but did not object to the resolution.
Since news of the whistleblower’s complaint surfaced last week, the administration has rebuffed demands by Democratic lawmakers that it be released. The whistleblower reportedly expressed concerns that, in a July phone call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, Trump pressed him to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, who is seeking the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, and Biden’s son, Hunter. But the complaint also reportedly covers other presidential conduct not related to the Ukraine matter.
Trump, while confirming he urged the probe, has denied speculation that his comments to the Ukraine leader carried with them the explicit or implicit threat that U.S. military aid to the country could be withheld if the Biden investigation was not undertaken.
Trump announced Tuesday he has authorized the release on Wednesday of a “complete, fully declassified and unredacted” transcript of his phone conversation with the Ukrainian president. But Democrats said that isn’t enough.
“We need the complaint,” Schumer said at the Capitol. And he questioned whether the entire transcript of Trump’s conversation will be declassified “or just some” of it.
Many Democrats say even if Trump did not carry out an explicit quid pro quo concerning the aid to Ukraine, his request that a foreign government conduct a probe that could help his reelection chances is grounds for impeachment by itself. They also maintain the Trump administration is in violation of whistleblower law, which requires the complaint to be transmitted to Congress.
McConnell had said Monday that Senate Democrats were attempting to “politicize” the issue. He offered no broader defense of Trump, however.
The Senate Intelligence Committee is expected to receive a closed-door briefing from the intelligence community inspector general, Michael Atkinson, about the complaint on Thursday, according to Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, the top Democrat on the panel. It’s not clear, however, whether Atkinson will be bringing the complaint with him.
The Trump administration’s unwillingness to release the complaint to Congress has spurred additional calls for impeachment among Democrats in both the House and Senate. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) reportedly now has decided that an impeachment inquiry will be launched.