Timeline: The Trump impeachment inquiry
Under the umbrella of an impeachment inquiry, House Democrats are investigating President Donald Trump and whether he abused his presidential power by withholding aid to Ukraine while asking its government to look into his political rival Joe Biden.
This timeline documents what we know so far about the impeachment inquiry. The sources are either verified events, court filings, public statements, or (on-the-record) media reports.
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Winter 2013-14: A popular revolution begins in Ukraine after its president tries to strengthen ties with Russia. Vice President Joe Biden assumes a lead role in U.S. diplomacy there.
Feb. 21, 2014: Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovych goes into exile in Russia.
April 18, 2014: Hunter Biden, 44, son of Joe Biden, joins the board of directors of Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian energy company. Biden’s directorship attracts attention because Burisma is owned by Mykola Zlochevsky, a minister under Yanukovych. Zlochevsky and subsidiaries of Burisma had faced accusations of money laundering, fraud and tax evasion. (Zlochevsky and the company have denied the allegations.)
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, center, son Hunter Biden, left, and his sister Valerie Biden Owens, right, at a ceremony in Sojevo, Kosovo, Aug. 17, 2016. (AP)
Feb. 10, 2015: Ukraine appoints Viktor Shokin as prosecutor general. Shokin inherits some of the investigations into Zlochevsky and his company. But Vitaliy Kasko, who serves as Shokin’s deputy overseeing international cooperation until he resigned in protest, told Bloomberg in 2019 that, under Shokin, the investigation into Burisma remained dormant. Kasko said the matter was "shelved by Ukrainian prosecutors in 2014 and through 2015," and Bloomberg reported that documents backed up his account.
Winter 2015-16: Many Western leaders and institutions, as well as Ukrainian anti-corruption activists, view Shokin as corrupt and ineffective for failing to prosecute anybody of significance, and for protecting members of Yanukovych’s and Poroshenko’s circles. A frustrated Biden threatens to withhold $1 billion unless Shokin is fired. (He would later brag that his pressure tactics succeeded.)
March 29, 2016: Shokin is sacked by Ukraine’s parliament.
May 12, 2016: Yuri Lutsenko succeeds Shokin as Ukraine’s prosecutor general.
Jan. 2017: Burisma announces that all open legal cases against Zlochevsky and Burisma companies are "fully closed."
Jan. 20, 2017: Trump is inaugurated as the Obama-Biden administration ends.
Jan. 23, 2018: In videotaped remarks, former Vice President Biden boasts that his threat to withhold $1 billion in U.S. aid to Ukraine unless Shokin was fired was successful:
"I remember going over (to Ukraine), convincing our team … that we should be providing for loan guarantees … And I was supposed to announce that there was another billion-dollar loan guarantee. And I had gotten a commitment from (then Ukrainian President Petro) Poroshenko and from (then-Prime Minister Arseniy) Yatsenyuk that they would take action against the state prosecutor (Shokin). And they didn’t. ...
"They were walking out to a press conference. I said, nah, ... we’re not going to give you the billion dollars. They said, ‘You have no authority. You’re not the president.’ … I said, call him. I said, I’m telling you, you’re not getting the billion dollars. I said, you’re not getting the billion. ... I looked at them and said, ‘I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money.’ Well, son of a b----. He got fired. And they put in place someone who was solid at the time."
April 25, 2019: Biden announces his 2020 run for presidency.
Spring 2019: Hunter Biden leaves Burisma. There are conflicting reports as to whether the younger Biden’s departure occurred before or after the elder Biden announced his presidential run. Biden’s campaign, Hunter Biden’s attorney, Burisma Holdings and a lawyer for the company did not respond to multiple requests for the date of Hunter Biden’s departure.
May 19, 2019: In a Fox News interview, Trump claims Joe Biden pushed Ukraine to oust Shokin to block the prosecution of Hunter Biden. This claim is inconsistent with statements from other former Ukrainian prosecutors and anti-corruption activists.
July 24, 2019: Special Counsel Robert Mueller testifies before Congress. The hearing marks an end to the nearly two-year investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. election, the Trump campaign’s possible collusion with Moscow and whether the president obstructed justice.
Ukrainian troops with the National Ground Forces Academy participate in a military exercise Nov. 7, 2018. (Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, licensed under creative commons.)
July 25, 2019: Trump speaks on the phone to Zelensky. During the 30-minute call, the leaders discuss reviving a dormant Ukrainian government investigation linked to Burisma, the Ukrainian energy company that Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, had served on as a board member while his father was vice president. Facing public pressure, the White House would later publish a summary of the call.
Aug. 12, 2019: An unnamed intelligence official files a whistleblower complaint to the inspector general of the intelligence community, who finds the complaint credible and urgent.
Aug. 20, 2019: Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney, tells the New York Times that he met earlier in the month with Andriy Yermak, a top Ukrainian official, and "strongly urged" him to "just investigate the darn things." Giuliani claims he was acting as a private citizen.
Sept. 4, 2019: The ousted Ukrainian prosecutor Shokin in a witness statement claims he was forced out because he was investigating Burisma, the Hunter Biden-affiliated Ukrainian energy company. Shokin’s claim is inconsistent with statements from other former Ukrainian prosecutors and anti-corruption activists.
Sept. 19, 2019: Giuliani admits he asked Ukrainian officials to investigate the Bidens. (In the same CNN interview, Giuliani also denies having done so.)
Sept. 22, 2019: Trump acknowledges that he discussed the Bidens during his July 25 call with Zelensky.
Sept. 23, 2019: Seven freshman House Democrats with national security backgrounds publish a Washington Post op-ed that calls on fellow lawmakers to consider impeachment hearings after reports that Trump may have pressured Ukraine into investigating Biden. The authors write: "If these allegations are true, we believe these actions represent an impeachable offense."
Sept. 24, 2019: House Democrats launch a formal impeachment inquiry. In announcing the inquiry, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi accuses Trump of violating the Constitution by using his position as president to solicit help from a foreign government to damage his political opponent.
Sept. 25, 2019: The White House releases a declassified summary of the July 25 telephone call between Trump and Zelensky. It shows Trump had asked the Ukrainian leader to look into the Bidens and offered help from the Justice Department.
President Donald Trump meets with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy during the United Nations General Assembly, Sept. 25, 2019, in New York. (AP)
Sept. 26, 2019: The whistleblower complaint is made public. It largely reflects the substance of the Trump-Zelensky call, as seen in the White House summary. The complaint alleges that White House officials sought to "lock down" details of the conversation by storing the contents in a highly classified computer system. It further alleges that other discussions between Trump and world leaders were similarly secured.
Sept. 30, 2019: House Democrats subpoena Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney, asking him to turn over documents related to Trump’s efforts to have Ukraine investigate the Bidens.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., left, joined by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., right, arrive for a news conference on Capitol Hill, Oct. 2, 2019 (AP)
Oct. 3, 2019: Trump publicly asks China to investigate the Bidens, a similar request to the one he made to Ukraine which started the impeachment inquiry. (Read our story about Hunter Biden and business in China.)
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