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  • House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) with other Republican congressmen speaks to the media outside a secure area as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Laura Cooper testifies in a closed-door deposition.

    House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) with other Republican congressmen speaks to the media outside a secure area as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Laura Cooper testifies in a closed-door deposition. | Photo: Reuters

Published 23 October 2019

The unruly bunch of Republican legislators stormed into the hearing room where the U.S. defense official who oversees Ukraine and Russia matters was due to testify.

United States Republican lawmakers, encouraged by President Donald Trump to fight Democrats’ attempts to impeach him, disrupted Wednesday the U.S. House of Representatives’ impeachment inquiry and prevented a Pentagon official from testifying.

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Trump Tied Ukraine Aid to Politically Motivated Probe: US Top Diplomat

The unruly bunch of Republican legislators stormed into the hearing room where the U.S. defense official who oversees Ukraine and Russia matters,  Laura Cooper,  was due to testify behind closed doors and began yelling, lawmakers and aides reported.

“There’s about 20 members (lawmakers) down there, at least a dozen that are not on the three committees. And they’re going to wait until there’s a more open and transparent process,” Republican Representative Mark Meadows told reporters.

While Democratic Representative Ted Lieu said “they don’t want to hear from witness Cooper today. They know more facts are going to be delivered which are absolutely damning to the president of the United States.”

As the impeachment inquiry against Trump gains momentum, on Tuesday the U.S. Senior Envoy to Ukraine William Taylor testified admitting that he was told that Trump made the release of security aid to Ukraine with the condition Kiev would publicly declare it would carry out politically motivated investigations against presidential candidate Joe Biden.

Taylor’s appearance marked another key development in the main happening unfolding in Washington that threatens Trump’s presidency even as he pursues re-election.

This comes as the initial whistleblower from within the U.S. intelligence community lodged 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.

Trump has denied he did this to get leverage or blackmail Zelenskiy. Federal election law prohibits candidates from accepting foreign help in an election.

Following the scandal, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that the House of Representatives is moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry of Trump, adding the “the actions revealed the dishonorable fact of the President's betrayal of his oath of office, betrayal of our national security and betrayal of the integrity of our elections." 

Under the U.S. Constitution, the House has the power to impeach a president for “high crimes and misdemeanors” and the Senate then holds a trial on whether to remove the president from office. No president has ever been removed from office through impeachment. Democrats currently control the House and Republicans control the Senate.

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