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  • U.S. President Donald Trump delivers remarks on honesty and transparency in healthcare prices inside the Roosevelt Room at the White House in Washington, U.S., November 15, 2019.

    U.S. President Donald Trump delivers remarks on honesty and transparency in healthcare prices inside the Roosevelt Room at the White House in Washington, U.S., November 15, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 18 November 2019

Congress members in the Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives have not formally called Trump as a witness.

United States President Donald Trump indicated publicly Monday for the first time that he might be willing to testify in the impeachment inquiry over his efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden.

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“Even though I did nothing wrong, and don’t like giving credibility to this No Due Process Hoax, I like the idea & will, in order to get Congress focused again, strongly consider it!” Trump said on Twitter.

Congress members in the Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives have not formally called Trump as a witness in the inquiry into whether he used foreign policy to try to get Ukraine to investigate domestic political opponent Biden.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Sunday in a CBS interview that Trump has every opportunity to present his case, including coming before intelligence committee hearings. 

“I wouldn’t encourage the President at all — it would be a ‘heck no’ from me as far as my advice on whether or not he should come to testify,” Republican lawmaker Lee Zeldin Zeldin told Fox News arguing that Trump “wouldn’t just be lowering himself to Adam Schiff’s level — he would be lowering himself below Adam Schiff’s level.”

The president has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, as he has also verbally attacked the House Committee carrying the probe and witnesses who have testified against him. On Sunday he lashed out at foreign policy aide to Vice President Mike Pence, Jennifer Williams, who is set to testify publicly this week before lawmakers, calling her a “never Trumper.”

Williams, who was listening to the call on July 25, testified that Trump’s insistence that Ukraine carry out politically sensitive investigations “struck me as unusual and inappropriate.”

Meanwhile on Friday, as former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch was testifying before the U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence Committee Trump tweeted a message mentioning her, which may be considered an act of "witness intimidation" in the context of investigations before a possible impeachment process.

Democrat Rep. Eric Swalwell told reporters this attack could be considered for a separate article of impeachment against Trump for obstruction of justice.

The public phase of hearings shifts into a higher gear this week when a list of officials will face questioning by Democratic lawmakers, as eight more witnesses are due to testify in the second week of the televised hearings, including U.S. Ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland.

The diplomat admitted in a revised version of his earlier testimony that in fact, he told a Ukrainian official the U.S. would withhold aid unless they pursued investigations against Biden demanded by Trump.

The details now appear to reinforce the initial whistleblower complaint that led to the investigation by three U.S. House of Representatives committees. The testimony also corroborates other witnesses who said Trump sought to pressure the Ukrainians into conducting investigations that appeared to be aimed at helping his re-election campaign.

The Ukraine scandal is the result of a whistleblower from within the U.S. intelligence community lodging a complaint with an internal watchdog about Trump’s conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

The July 25 call, which was later released by the White House, confirmed that the U.S. president asked Zelenskiy to investigate his political rival in coordination with the U.S. attorney general and Trump’s personal lawyer,  which in turn occurred after Trump had ordered a freeze of nearly US$400 million in U.S. aid to Ukraine, which the administration only later released.

Federal election law prohibits candidates from accepting foreign help in an election.

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