As House debated harsh resolution slamming Trump for not providing whistleblower complaint, administration delivered document

Ledyard King and Maureen Groppe, USA TODAY

Corrections & Clarifications: An earlier version of this article misstated what was included in a resolution adopted by the House. The version that passed excluded language criticizing the Trump administration for its handling of a whistleblower complaint.

WASHINGTON – The House Wednesday joined the Senate in demanding the release of a complaint filed by a whistleblower regarding the president's contacts with Ukraine, a request that the Trump administration complied with before the end of the day.

When the House began debating the non-binding resolution in the afternoon, the sensitive documents had not been delivered to Capitol Hill. By the time, the House overwhelmingly passed the  measure Wednesday evening, it was a moot point because the records had already been received by the intelligence committees of both chambers.

The vote was 421-0 with two GOP members voting "present."

A measure that was initially debated was a sharply worded resolution formally rebuking the administration for shirking the law by not immediately releasing the whistleblower complaint as required by law. That resolution was removed at the last minute in favor of one that mirrored a Senate resolution, passed without dissent Tuesday, that was more limited in scope and restrained in its language.

Document delivered: Whistleblower complaint at center of Trump-Ukraine scandal arrives on Capitol Hill

The whistleblower's complaint – and the administration's initial refusal to release it – prompted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's announcement Tuesday to launch a formal impeachment inquiry against Trump. Democrats have accused the president of acting inappropriately during a July 25 phone call by urging Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former vice president Joe Biden.

Republicans, led by Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., proposed a measure to stop impeachment proceedings but it failed on a party-line vote Wednesday in the Democrat-controlled House.

Pelosi said the release of the complaint was paramount to the checks-and-balances system created by the Constitution.

"This vote today is about more than just any one president," she said on the House floor Wednesday before the House voted on the measure. "This resolution is about the preservation of our American system of government."

Tuesday, the Senate unanimously backed a resolution offered by Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., that also called for the whistleblower complaint to immediately be sent to the intelligence committees. 

Trump on Wednesday dismissed the notion that he pressured Zelensky, even though a summary of the call shows he asked the Ukrainian leader about the Biden allegations after an extended conversation about U.S. aid to Ukraine.

The call: 'I would like you to do us a favor.' What Trump and Zelensky said in their July 25 phone call

The administration released the summary of the call but Democratic lawmakers said that wasn't enough, insisting that the administration follow the law and provide the complaint as well.

Speaking for the first time since House Democrats announced their impeachment inquiry, Trump said the summary of the call with Zelensky did not prove he leaned on Kiev to open an investigation into Biden.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., talks Sept. 25, 2019, to reporters in the Capitol about the release by the White House of a transcript of a call between President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Voldymyr Zelenskiy, in which Trump is said to have pushed for Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his family.

"The way you had that built up, that call was going to be the call from hell,” Trump told reporters during a meeting on Venezuela taking place at the United Nations. "It turned out to be a nothing call.”

Call details: Read the summary of President Trump's call with Ukraine president about Biden

Wednesday's vote was not on articles of impeachment, which are basically an indictment by the House.

Pelosi had resisted such a step until news broke that an unnamed official in the intelligence community expressed concerns over Trump's contacts with Ukraine. 

Congressional Republicans have accused Democrats of a "rush to judgment" designed to undo Trump's 2016 win at the ballot box.

Sharp division: GOP dismisses Trump's Ukraine call as Democrats compare it to a 'mob shakedown'

"What really is at question is where this all leads to. And I think we know where it all leads to," House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., said on the House floor when the harshly worded resolution was being debated. "This all started with an intention by many (Democrats). They were going to try to work to impeach the president (from the beginning). Keep in mind there's not a single article of impeachment that they've listed because there have been no crimes."

But House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said the issue is bigger than a single complaint.

"If we don't validate the whistleblower process. If we leave the whistleblower unprotected ... the system is broken, meaning corruption will not be exposed," he said. "And corruption here involves the subordination of our national security to the president's political needs. That's what's at stake here."

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trump slammed in House resolution on whistleblower complaint