House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffJan. 6 panel faces new test as first witness pleads the Fifth Jan. 6 panel releases contempt report on Trump DOJ official ahead of censure vote The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden to update Americans on omicron; Congress back MORE (D-Calif.) on Thursday blasted President TrumpDonald TrumpHillicon Valley — State Dept. employees targets of spyware Ohio Republican Party meeting ends abruptly over anti-DeWine protesters Jan. 6 panel faces new test as first witness pleads the Fifth MORE for asking China and Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenPfizer CEO says vaccine data for those under 5 could be available by end of year Omicron coronavirus variant found in at least 10 states Photos of the Week: Schumer, ASU protest and sea turtles MORE, calling it a "fundamental breach" of presidential decorum and a threat to national security.
Emerging from a closed-door meeting in the Capitol basement, where lawmakers from three committees are interviewing a key witness as part of the Democrats' impeachment inquiry, Schiff said the comments are evidence that Trump has ignored the lessons from former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerAn unquestioning press promotes Rep. Adam Schiff's book based on Russia fiction Senate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG MORE’s investigation into Russian interference — and Mueller's warnings of ongoing foreign influence over critical domestic affairs.
"To have the president of the United States suggesting — urging — a foreign country to interfere in our presidential elections is an illustration that this president, if he learned anything from the two years of the Mueller investigation, it's that he feels he can do anything with impunity," Schiff told a crowd of reporters staking out the meeting.
"The president of the United States encouraging a foreign nation to interfere again to help his campaign by investigating a rival is a fundamental breach of the presidential oath of office," Schiff continued. "It endangers our elections; it endangers our national security. It ought to be condemned by every member of this body, Democrats and Republicans alike."
Hours earlier, Trump raised plenty of eyebrows when he called on the leaders of China and Ukraine to investigate Biden and his son Hunter Biden.
"I would think that if they were honest about it they’d start a major investigation into the Bidens,” Trump told reporters at the White House.
Trump is already under fire after the recent revelation, unveiled in an anonymous whistleblower complaint, that Trump had urged Ukraine's president in July to investigate corruption allegations against the Bidens.
In response, Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPhotos of the Week: Schumer, ASU protest and sea turtles Hospitals in underserved communities face huge cuts in reckless 'Build Back Better' plan GOP infighting takes stupid to a whole new level MORE (D-Calif.), after months tamping down the impeachment push, endorsed a formal inquiry. As part of the process, Democrats have subpoenaed administration documents related to the Ukraine affair, while seeking depositions from a handful of current and former State Department officials with knowledge of the episode.
The first interview is being conducted Thursday in the Capitol, where Schiff is leading the deposition of Kurt VolkerKurt VolkerThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by National Industries for the Blind - Schumer: Dem unity will happen eventually; Newsom prevails CNN obtains audio of 2019 Giuliani call linked to Ukraine meddling allegations GOP senators request details on Hunter Biden's travel for probe MORE, the Trump administration's former envoy to Ukraine. Also in attendance are members of the Oversight and Reform and Foreign Affairs committees.
Participating lawmakers of both parties have been tight-lipped about the details of their interview.
Rep. Mark MeadowsMark MeadowsJan. 6 panel faces new test as first witness pleads the Fifth Holding defiant Trump witnesses to account, Jan. 6 committee carries out Congress's constitutional role Prosecutors say North Carolina woman deserves prison for bringing 14-year-old to Capitol riot MORE (R-N.C.), a close Trump ally, said Volker was providing "clarity" surrounding Trump's July request to the Ukrainian president.
"Anytime that you can add clarity to what actually happened is a good day for Americans," Meadows said. "And I think we're getting more clarity."