Jennifer Williams, an aide to the vice president, testified publicly before Congress as part of the second phase of the impeachment inquiry in November. Williams reportedly alerted congressional investigators to the existence of the call between the American vice president and the Ukrainian president, which reportedly took place in September – the same month the allegations against President Donald Trump made by the still-anonymous whistleblower came to light.
Per the report, Schiff made the existence of the call known in a letter he sent to the vice president on Friday. In the letter, Schiff said the VP should declassify the call as he believes its contents – revealed to investigators in Williams’ supplemental submission to Congress – are pertinent to the ongoing impeachment inquiry.
“The Office of the Vice President’s decision to classify ‘certain portions’ of the Sept. 18 call … cannot be justified on national security or any other legitimate grounds we can discern,” Schiff wrote, per Talking Points Memo. “Having reviewed the supplemental submission, the committee strongly believes that there is no legitimate basis for the Office of the Vice President to assert that the information … is classified.”
According to the Saturday report from Talking Points Memo, Williams alerted the House Intelligence Committee of the existence of the call in late November, just one week after she publicly testified in the hearing. In his letter Friday, Schiff gave Pence until Wednesday, December 11, to respond to his request to declassify the call.
When she testified before the House Intelligence Committee last month, Williams reportedly told lawmakers that the September 18 call was a followup to a meeting the two leaders had earlier in the month. At the time of her testimony, she said the call was “very positive” and testified that the call did not include any reference to any of the investigations the president had asked about on his July 25 call with Zelensky. In the July call, Trump reportedly referenced an unproven theory relating to interference in the 2016 election and reportedly requested Ukraine to launch an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden.
Per Talking Points Memo, Williams had called the July call between the Ukrainian and American leaders “unusual and inappropriate,” which resulted in the president launching an attack against her on Twitter.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced this week she had directed the committees involved in the impeachment inquiry to proceed in writing articles of impeachment against the 45th president. Should Trump be impeached by the House and removed by a Senate trial and conviction, Pence would become president.