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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said at a briefing Thursday that the White House's alleged efforts to conceal information about President Trump's now-infamous phone call with the Ukrainian president amount to a "cover-up."

"I'll just read from the complaint, which is now public, but which I saw yesterday when it wasn't. The complaint states that the White House tried to lock down all records of the call, especially the word-for-word transcript. That gave the whistleblower reason to believe that they, the White House, understood the gravity of what transpired in that call. The complaint reports, a quote, "repeated abuse of an electronic records system designed to store classified, sensitive national security information," which the White House used to hide information of a political nature. This is a cover-up. This is a cover-up."

The big picture: Pelosi previously had a restrained approach on opening an impeachment investigation for fears it might backfire on Democrats politically. She claimed on Thursday that she didn't change her mind on impeachment and that she has "always been on the course of finding the facts as we honor our constitution."

  • Pelosi later said the president "has been engaged in a cover-up all along" — referencing examples beyond efforts to conceal the nature of his phone call with the Ukrainian president.
  • She gave as an example Trump's attempts to prevent Deutsche Bank from turning his tax documents over to Congress.

Of note: The impeachment inquiry will focus on the Ukraine matter "for now," Pelosi said. All other possible points of inquiry — like abuse of power, ignoring subpoenas and contempt of Congress — will be considered later.

  • Pelosi indicated the House Intelligence Committee will head the inquiry and that the other 5 committees involved in the process will follow their timeline.
  • A timeline for drafting possible articles of impeachment will be decided by the Intelligence Committee.

Pelosi made her remarks at the same time that acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire was testifying before the House Intelligence Committee.

  • When asked if Maguire had good reason to delay sending the whistleblower report to Congress, Pelosi was unequivocal: "No, he broke the law."

Go deeper: Maguire says whistleblower "did the right thing"

Go deeper

"Atmospheric river" to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood

A map depicting 24-hour preciptation forecast (inches) ending Monday at 5a.m. local time. Photo: NOAA

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are set dump historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest from this weekend, forecasters warn.

Why it matters: A strong atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, is predicted to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood.

10,000 trees near giant sequoia groves to be removed after fires

A firefighter looks up at a giant sequoia tree after fire burned through the Sequoia National Forest near California Hot Springs, California, on Sept. 23. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

"Upwards of" 10,000 trees near giant sequoia groves have been "weakened by drought, disease, age, and/or fire" and must be removed in the wake of California's wildfires, the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks announced.

Why it matters: The damage to these trees, considered "national treasures," and work to remove them means a nearby key highway must remain closed to visitors as they have "the potential to strike people, cars, other structures, or create barriers to emergency response services," per a statement from the national parks.

Obama stumps for McAuliffe, urges Virginians not "to go back to the chaos"

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Former President Barack Obama framed a Nov. 2 gubernatorial race as a bellwether for the Democratic Party and the country, telling a crowd at a campaign event for Terry McAuliffe on Saturday that "I believe you, right here in Virginia, are going to show the rest of the country and the world that we're not going to indulge in our worst instincts."

Why it matters: With just over a week to go before Election Day in the Commonwealth, McAuliffe is bringing out the big guns. The 44th president appeared on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University to urge supporters to get to the polls.