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Pelosi says Trump engaged in ‘cover-up’ to hide Ukraine call records

Speaker Nancy Pelosi. | Zach Gibson/Getty Images

Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday accused President Donald Trump of taking part in a “cover-up” for attempting to suppress information about his call with the Ukrainian president asking for an investigation into the Biden family.

“This is a cover-up. This is a cover-up,” Pelosi said, repeating it for emphasis, at a news conference with reporters. The California Democrat then read directly from the newly released whistleblower complaint — which centered on Trump’s conversation with President Volodymyr Zelensky in July — and states that the White House tried to “lock down” all records of the call and move them to a more secure electronic system.

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Pelosi said Trump’s alleged efforts to seek political help from Ukrainian leaders and later bury key documents “betrayed his oath of office” and threatened national security and elections, hours after the damning complaint was made public Thursday morning.

“We are at a different level of lawlessness that is self-evident to the American people,” Pelosi said, adding, “We have a heightened responsibility to act upon those facts.”

Trump on Thursday fired back, accusing Pelosi of being “hijacked by the radical left.”

It’s not the first time Pelosi has accused Trump of a “cover-up.” She told reporters in May after Trump stormed out of a White House meeting on infrastructure: “We believe that the president of the United States is engaged in a cover-up.” Trump responded then: “I don’t do cover-ups.”

Pelosi did not say whether the complaint, along with the high-profile testimony of acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire on Thursday, would expedite her caucus’ path toward impeachment.

House Democrats this week took the momentous step of embracing an impeachment inquiry into Trump. But Pelosi reiterated that Democrats plan to move cautiously, with no specific timeline to draft or vote on articles of impeachment.

“There are some in our caucus who think, let’s just have an impeachment. No, we have to have an inquiry to further establish the facts,” Pelosi said to a packed room of reporters. “There is no rush to judgment.”

The complaint specifically alleged that White House officials had witnessed Trump “abuse his office for personal gain.” It also claimed that White House lawyers directed White House officials to store transcripts in an electronic system typically meant for classified information, though the document itself was not classified.

Several Democrats said Thursday that the release of the whistleblower complaint appeared to escalate the urgency for action — even before many read the entire report — by offering an even clearer case against Trump.

“I’m shocked and I’m only on the first page,” Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) said, holding up the report. So far, though, she said the contents were more damning than she expected to see in the complaint.

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), who said he hasn’t yet read the full report, said it was clear Trump had violated the law.

“He likely has engaged in multiple acts of trying to cover it up,” Jeffries said. “That’s the substance of what we need to present to the American people.”

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