What led to President Donald Trump's impeachment inquiry?
The U.S. House of Representatives is currently conducting an inquiry into whether Trump should be impeached for using the privileges of his office to pressure a foreign country to damage a political rival.
Investigations into Trump, Ukraine, and former Vice President Joe Biden's son, Hunter Biden, reveal a complicated web of characters and events.
To help you keep the gist of this ongoing news story straight, here is a timeline of the main events that led to the Trump impeachment inquiry:
1991: The Soviet Union collapses. Ukraine becomes an independent nation.
February 2014: A revolution in Ukraine ousts its pro-Russian president, Viktor Yanukovych.
Petro Poroshenko becomes Ukraine's new president. U.S. President Barack Obama makes Vice President Joe Biden his point man on relations with the new pro-Western government.
February, March 2014: Russia invades Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula.
April 2014: Joe Biden travels to Ukraine and announces U.S. aid aimed at lessening Ukraine's reliance on Russian energy.
May 2014: Hunter Biden joins the board of a Ukrainian gas company, Burisma. The company is owned by Mykola Zlochevsky, who was Yanukovych's ecology minister, and was being investigated for corruption at the time.
May 2016: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump hires Paul Manafort as his campaign chairman. Manafort had consulted pro-Russian Yanukovych before he was ousted.
June 2016: A private internet security firm, CrowdStrike, hired by the Democrat National Committee to investigate its hacked computer servers concludes that Russia was the culprit.
July 2016: U.S. intelligence communities agree with CrowdStrike's conclusion. (A conspiracy theory develops at this point among fringe right-wing figures that CrowdStrike is controlled by Ukraine and it was Ukraine, not Russia, that hacked the servers. Subsequent investigations by Congress, the Justice Department, and Robert Mueller agree with CrowdStrike's conclusions.)
January 20, 2017: Trump becomes president.
May 2017: Special counsel Robert Mueller appointed to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election.
July 13, 2018: Mueller indicts 12 Russian agents for hacking the DNC.
September 2018: As part of the Mueller investigation, Manafort pleads guilty to conspiracy against the U.S. and laundering millions of dollars while working for Yanukovych.
April 21, 2019: Poroshenko loses in the Ukrainian presidential election to Volodymyr Zelensky, a TV comedian, who ran on an anti-corruption platform.
May 1, 2019: The New York Times publishes an article on the Bidens and Ukraine authored by NYT reporter Kenneth Vogel and Ukrainian reporter Iuliia Mendel. The Manafort case, they wrote, "exposed a seedy side of the lucrative Western consulting industry in Ukraine."
Vogel and Mendel also note that Trump allies, partly led by Trump's personal lawyer, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, were working to bring greater awareness to the Hunter Biden scandal.
The report pointed out that a Ukrainian prosecutor before the election had reopened the investigation into Hunter Biden, which "was seen in some quarters as an effort by the prosecutor general, Yuriy Lutsenko, to curry favor from the Trump administration for his boss and ally, the incumbent president, Petro O. Poroshenko."
Hunter Biden provided a statement for the article, saying he was stepping down from his position at Burisma because he was "being attacked by Rudy Giuliani and his minions for transparent political purposes."
May 7, 2019: After months of criticism in conservative media, Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch is recalled by Trump two months early. She would later testify in the impeachment inquiry, against Trump's directive, that she felt threatened by Trump.
July 8, 2019: The New Yorker, a liberal publication, publishes a lengthy profile of Hunter Biden under the headline, "Will Hunter Biden Jeopardize His Father's Campaign? Joe Biden's son is under scrutiny for his business dealings and tumultuous personal life."
Among the many revelations, the article details Hunter Biden's ties to Burisma. Former Obama White House aides were interviewed and said there were concerns raised at the time about Hunter Biden taking a position with Burisma.
“Hunter was on the loose, potentially undermining his father’s message," one Obama aide explained to The New Yorker.
July 10, 2019: Two of Zelensky's senior advisers, Oleksandr Danyliuk and Andriy Yermak, meet with senior Trump officials at the White House in then-National Security Advisor John Bolton's office. Bolton, Ambassador to the United Nations Gordon Sondland, Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman (a Ukraine expert), White House Russia adviser Fiona Hill, and White House Ukraine adviser Kurt Volker were at the meeting.
During the meeting, Sondland raised the issue of reviving Ukraine's investigation into Burisma. Bolton became alarmed at the exchange and ended the meeting. After Sondland led the Ukrainians to a different location, Bolton told Hill to follow the group to find out what was going on.
Vindman claims that Sondland raised the issue of investigating the Bidens at that smaller meeting. Sondland denies that, testifying that he was unaware at the time of Hunter Biden's connection to Burisma.
After those meetings, Bolton tells Hill, “I am not part of whatever drug deal Sondland and [acting White House Chief of Staff Mick] Mulvaney are cooking up,” and directs her to report what she saw to the Deputy Counsel to the President for National Security Affairs John Eisenberg.
July 18, 2019: Mulvaney places a hold on $391 million in security aid for Ukraine.
July 25, 2019: Trump and Zelensky speak on a phone call, with other advisers listening.
After Zelensky mentions needing the aid, Trump said, "I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it. I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say Crowdstrike ... I guess you have one of your wealthy people... The server, they say Ukraine has it. There are a lot of things that went on, the whole situation... I think you are surrounding yourself with some of the same people." (Ellipses in text provided by the White House.)
Later in the call, Trump asks Zelensky to investigate Hunter Biden.
"The other thing, there's a lot of talk about Biden's son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that. So whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it... It sounds horrible to me," he said. (Ellipsis in text provided by the White House.)
August 12, 2019: An anonymous whistleblower files a complaint with Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson (pdf version here).
"In the course of my official duties, I have received information from multiple U.S. Government officials that the President of the United States is using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election," the complaint reads.
In seven pages, the complaint describes the July 25 phone call, efforts within the White House to restrict access to records of the call, and other actions (much of which is publicly available) leading to and related to the call.
August 28, 2019: Politico provides the first public report that the Trump administration is withholding aid to Ukraine.
September 1, 2019: Vice President Mike Pence meets with Zelensky in Poland for a World War II commemoration ceremony. Trump was originally supposed to attend but stayed in the U.S. due to Hurricane Dorian.
Sondland meets with Yermak on the same trip and tells him that funds for Ukraine will only be released after Zelensky makes a public statement announcing that Ukraine would be reopening an investigation into Burisma and the supposed involvement of Ukrainian officials in the 2016 election. Sondland gives Yermak the wording of the statement Zelensky is supposed to use.
September 9, 2019: Atkinson tells the House and Senate intelligence committees that a whistleblower has filed a credible complaint. He doesn't say what's in the complaint, or reveal the identity of the whistleblower, but notes it's of "urgent concern," a phrase that triggers certain requirements under the whistleblower statute.
September 10, 2019: House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., reminds Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire in a letter that the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act requires him to transmit the whistleblower complaint to the House and Senate intelligence committees.
Bolton resigns. Trump claims he told Bolton to resign. Bolton claims he offered his resignation first.
September 11, 2019: The Trump administration releases the aid to Ukraine.
September 24, 2019: Trump announces in a set of tweets that he will release the "fully declassified and unredacted transcript of my phone conversation with President Zelensky" and there was "NO quid pro quo!"
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announces an impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump.
"This week, the president has admitted to asking the president of Ukraine to take actions which would benefit him politically. The actions of the Trump presidency revealed dishonorable facts of the president's betrayal of his oath of office, betrayal of national security and betrayal of the integrity of our elections," she said.
September 25, 2019: The White House releases a partial and rough transcript of Trump's call with Zelensky.
At a meeting with Trump at the United Nations, Zelensky tells reporters that prosecutors are independent in his country and he didn't feel pressured by Trump to push for investigations.
September 26, 2019: The White House declassifies the whistleblower complaint.
October 31, 2019: After a month of closed-door hearings, the House votes to formally proceed with its impeachment inquiry. The vote is mostly bipartisan. Two Democrats vote no, no Republicans vote in favor.