US House impeachment inquiry to intensify; Donald Trump remains defiant


WASHINGTON: The House of Representatives impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump over his request that a foreign power investigate a domestic political rival is set to intensify this week with testimony due from witnesses concerning allegations made by a whistleblower within the US intelligence community.

The whistleblower’s complaint cited a July 25 telephone call in which Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate Joe Biden, one of the leading Democratic candidates seeking to challenge him in 2020, and his son Hunter, who sat on the board of a Ukrainian gas company.

Democrats have accused Trump of pressuring a vulnerable US ally to get dirt on a political rival for personal political gain. Trump’s July 25 phone call came after he froze nearly $400 million in aid intended to help Ukraine deal with an insurgency by Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country.

The aid was later provided. The House Intelligence Committee is leading the impeachment inquiry. The inquiry in the Democratic-led House could lead to approval of articles of impeachment against the Republican president and a subsequent trial in the Republican-led Senate on whether to remove Trump from office.

Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said on Sunday he expects the whistleblower to appear before the panel very soon. While Congress is on a two-week recess, members of the committee will return to the US Capitol this week to carry out an investigation that is likely to produce new subpoenas for documents and other material.

The committee is scheduled to hold a closed-door hearing on Friday with the intelligence community’s inspector general, Michael Atkinson, who concluded that the whistleblower complaint was of urgent concern and appeared credible.

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House investigators are set to take the first witness testimony from two people mentioned in the whistleblower’s complaint.





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