Trump impeachment probe to enter critical public phase next week

David Hale

Taylor has provided some of the most damaging testimony to date, telling lawmakers on October 22 that Trump made the release of almost $400 million in security aid to Ukraine contingent on Kiev publicly declaring it would carry out politically motivated investigations demanded by Trump against former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden.

Lawmakers are seeking to find out how much Pence knew about efforts by Trump and those around him to pressure Ukraine to investigate former vice-president Joe Biden and his son Hunter, as well as foreign interference in the 2016 USA election.

House Democrats are investigating Trump's pressure on Ukraine to investigate political rivals as aid money was being withheld from the Eastern European country.

Republicans on the panel, however, noted that Taylor didn't have firsthand contact with President Trump or lawyer Rudy Giuliani, just U.S. Ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, and former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine, Kurt Volker. "I don't know what was in the President's mind".

If the House votes to impeach, it would be only the third time in USA history that a president has faced such a trial.

Taylor said he was told by Gordon Sondland, the USA envoy to the European Union, that Trump had linked release of the aid to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy publicly declaring that he would investigate Biden, and his son Hunter Biden, as well as a debunked conspiracy theory about the 2016 election. In fact, Ambassador Sondland said everything was dependent on such an announcement, including security assistance.

"Potus wanted nothing less than President Zelenskiy to go to the microphone and say investigations, Biden and Clinton", Kent testified.

Schiff, in a statement released Thursday, said Democrats do not intend to request public testimony from every witness who has provided depositions in closed-door sessions with lawmakers.

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He was then asked if he was "aware that quid pro quo literally means this for that?"

Democrats launched the inquiry based on an anonymous whistleblower complaint about the July phone call the president had with the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

Jennifer Williams, a special adviser to U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence for Europe and Russian Federation, and also a career foreign service officer, arrived for a closed-door interview on Capitol Hill in Washington on Thursday.

Schiff's committee said later in the day that it had dropped an effort to force the cooperation of Charles Kupperman, a former White House deputy national security adviser who has refused to testify, saying it would take too long to resolve the issue in court.

It painted a damning picture of Trump offering a quid pro quo.

Regarding Sondland's released transcript, the White House on Tuesday dismissed it.

The White House claims the release of two transcripts Tuesday shows "there is even less evidence" for impeachment than previously thought. "No amount of salacious media-biased headlines, which are clearly created to influence the narrative, change the fact that the President has done nothing wrong".

A source with knowledge of her testimony added that Williams did not say she believed the two were connected, but simply expressed that as a possibility.

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