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."