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Schumer: Transcript 'absolutely validates' Trump impeachment inquiry

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerSenate panel unanimously advances key Biden cyber nominees Overnight Energy: Schumer to trigger reconciliation process Wednesday | Bipartisan bill would ban 'forever chemicals' in cosmetics | Biden admin eyes step toward Trump-era proposal for uranium reserve GOP senator: I want to make Biden a 'one-half-term president' MORE (D-N.Y.), who for months has resisted pressure from the left to impeach President TrumpDonald TrumpNorth Carolina Senate passes trio of election measures 14 Republicans vote against making Juneteenth a federal holiday Border state governors rebel against Biden's immigration chaos MORE, on Wednesday offered a full-throated endorsement of starting impeachment proceedings in the House.

Schumer told reporters Wednesday afternoon that a transcript of a call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in which the president asked for an investigation of Democratic candidate Joe BidenJoe BidenJapan to possibly ease COVID-19 restrictions before Olympics 14 Republicans vote against making Juneteenth a federal holiday China supplies millions of vaccine doses to developing nations in Asia MORE was a game-changer.

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“This document demonstrates that President Trump made it abundantly and redundantly clear to the president of the Ukraine that he wanted him to investigate his political opponent and further that he wanted him to work with Attorney General [William] Barr to make it happen,” Schumer told reporters.

“This document absolutely validates the wisdom of Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi’s [D-Calif.] decision to open up a formal impeachment inquiry,” he said.

The day before, Schumer declined to call for impeachment proceedings against Trump but voiced his full confidence in Pelosi’s ability to handle growing calls from Democratic lawmakers to begin the impeachment process against Trump.

“I speak regularly with Leader Pelosi. I spoke to her last night and again twice this morning. As I’ve said before, I believe she is handling this appropriately and she has my support,” Schumer said Tuesday.

Schumer on Wednesday said the transcript released by the White House earlier in the day “was far more damaging to the president’s case than any of us anticipated.”

“In this telephone conversation, the president of the United States made an extraordinary request to the president of Ukraine, to investigate Trump’s political opponent and aid President Trump’s reelection campaign,” Schumer said. “Does anyone think this conversation was in the national interest? Or was it in the president’s personal political interest?”

In the call, Trump asked Zelensky to investigate whether Biden, who served as vice president under former President Obama, used his influence to shut down a Ukrainian corruption investigation that might have touched his son, who was a paid board member to a Ukrainian energy company.

Trump said he would have Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiMo Brooks accuses Swalwell attorney who served papers on his wife of trespassing GOP's Stefanik defends Trump DOJ secret subpoenas Trump, allies pressured DOJ to back election claims, documents show MORE, the former mayor of New York and his personal lawyer, and Barr get in touch with Zelensky to pursue the matter further.

Other Democrats on Wednesday said Trump’s effort to set up a follow-up conversation with Giuliani was evidence that he was motivated by personal political gain.

“In some ways it’s even more damning to say to the leader of this foreign country, ‘Meet with my personal lawyer and help him out.’ That shows that Trump was trying to use the office for personal gain, because Giuliani is not a U.S. official,” said Sen. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineManchin meets with Texas lawmakers on voting rights Overnight Defense: Biden, Putin agree to launch arms control talks at summit | 2002 war authorization repeal will get Senate vote | GOP rep warns Biden 'blood with be on his hands' without Afghan interpreter evacuation Manchin opens door to supporting scaled-down election reform bill MORE (D-Va.), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

A second Democratic senator who requested anonymity to discuss the political dynamics of the impeachment debate expressed surprise that the White House thought releasing the transcript somehow exonerated Trump from wrongdoing.

“I think they don’t know what’s improper,” said the Democratic lawmaker. “This is probably the least bad thing they could release. There’s probably more.”

The senator speculated the White House released the transcript to lessen pressure to release a complaint filed by an anonymous whistleblower to the intelligence community’s inspector general against Trump.

“I think the complaint itself is going to be extensive and exhaustive and damaging,” the Democratic senator said.