Impeachment inquiry: Trump 'asked for probe in Ukraine with envoy'

Monday, 18 Nov, 2019

"I then heard President Trump ask, "So, he's gonna do the investigation?' Ambassador Sondland replied that 'he's gonna do it", adding that Zelenskiy will do "anything you ask him to", Holmes testified in his opening statement to House investigators, which was leaked to U.S. media.

Then came Friday and former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.

Trump ultimately released the aid to Ukraine after pressure from lawmakers, both Republicans and Democrats.

"How is it that foreign corrupt interests can manipulate our government?" Prefacing his assertion with "I'm being honest on this", he declared: "I think the evidence is crumbling". They also derided as secondhand the public testimony offered last week by a trio of career foreign-policy professionals who have described an irregular foreign policy back channel run by the president's lawyer-fixer, Rudolph W. Giuliani.

He added, "In what were supposed to be top-secret proceedings, Democrats released the opening statements of certain witnesses and leaked out testimony they believed to be favorable to them".

The whistleblower complaint, which concerned the purported "quid pro quo" Trump laid out in the phone call, sparked the impeachment inquiry and the president has since been highly critical of the unnamed person - questioning the whistleblower's credibility and asking for the disclosure of the person's name. At the same time, Ukraine was awaiting almost $400 million in USA military aid.

Constitutional scholars say Democrats have succeeded in laying important groundwork. Trump talked about the booming stock market, claimed the new executive order was "bigger than health care", threw some elbows at Obamacare and made an oblique reference to House Democrats "wasting a lot of time" on impeachment.

He also disputed Vindman's account in which he asked for edits to the document to include a mention of Burisma, the gas company that employed Hunter Biden on its board. Though the timing raised concerns among anti-corruption advocates, there has been no evidence of wrongdoing by either the former vice president or his son. Williams had listened in on the phone call while it was happening, and a whistleblower revealing the controversial contents of that call prompted the current impeachment inquiry into Trump.

Morrison said he always hoped aid would be released, but did not expect it because of Trump's professed skepticism toward foreign aid.

Throughout Morrison's account, he largely confirmed testimony from current and former officials about what has been described as a shadow diplomacy being run by Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, often at odds with USA national security interests.

"It is self-evident that we have open hearings for the next week".

Mueller, a former Federal Bureau of Investigation director, did not clear Trump of wrongdoing when he ended the probe nor did he allege the president committed misconduct.

The tweet was read to Yovanovitch by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, who asked her how she felt about it.

The fresh details come from hundreds of pages of testimony from Tim Morrison, a former top official at the National Security Council.

Responding directly to Mr Trump's tweet, in which he appeared to blame her for upheaval in Somalia, Ms Yovanovitch replied: "I don't think I have such powers, not in Mogadishu and Somalia and not in other places".

A United States diplomat told Donald Trump Ukraine would carry out investigations the president had asked for, a U.S. official testified at the impeachment inquiry.

"Our holding up of security systems that would go to a country that is fighting aggression from Russian Federation for no good policy reason, no good substantive reason, no good national security reason is wrong", said Taylor.