Trump impeachment: Democrats to hold first public hearings

Sen. Lindsey Graham R-S.C. and President Trump

Prosecutor Aaron Zelinsky said Wednesday that Stone "lied to the House Intelligence Committee because the truth looked bad for the Trump campaign, and the truth looked bad for Donald Trump", The Washington Post reports.

Bolton could be a star witness for the Democrat-led House inquiry, and his testimony would go against strong opposition from the White House.

Trump is accused of conditioning $391 million in congressionally approved military aid to Ukraine on Kiev announcing that it would investigate a Ukrainian energy company with ties to Biden's son.

Taylor testified behind closed doors last month that it was his understanding that security assistance for Ukraine and a visit by Ukraine's president was contingent on Zelenskiy launching investigations demanded by Trump.

"Ambassador Sondland squarely states that he "did not know, (and still does not know) when, why or by whom the aid was suspended.' He also said he 'presumed" there was a link to the aid-but can not identify any solid source for that assumption", Grisham continued. The White House has claimed that senior advisers have "absolute immunity" against testifying, a claim being challenged in the court system.

Meanwhile, investigators on November 5 asked Trump's acting chief of staff to appear before the impeachment inquiry.

William Taylor arrives for a closed deposition on Capitol Hill, in Washington, D.C., on October 22, 2019.

Trump and his backers blast the House inquiry as a witch hunt and accuse Democrats of unfairly targeting him in hope of reversing his surprise election victory in 2016.

In a letter sent on Wednesday to Devin Nunes, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee and a strong Trump supporter, the whistleblower's lawyers reiterated that their client was willing to answer written questions.

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Investigators are wrapping up the private interviews as they prepare to start public hearings next week.

People familiar with the matter say David Hale plans to tell congressional impeachment investigators that secretary of state Mike Pompeo and other senior officials determined that defending ambassador Marie Yovanovitch would hurt the effort to free up USA military assistance to Ukraine. Trump has directed his employees not to cooperate with the investigation. She is scheduled to appear next Friday.

Still, Democrats have indicated that they already have ample testimony about Trump's conduct on Ukraine.

Democrats leading the House committees investigating the US president and his aides over their pressure campaign on Ukraine would like to hear from recently-departed national security adviser John Bolton, but it's not clear if he'll ever appear to give testimony.

The president tweeted out a key phrase from testimony of former U.S. Ukraine envoy Kurt Volker, who told lawmakers he didn't know about a quid pro quo, despite text messages where he discusses an effort for Ukraine to pursue "the 2016 election and Burisma" - a reference to a probe that encompasses Hunter Biden.

Democrats say that witnesses like Bolton, Mulvaney and Perry - who did not appear under Trump's orders - will just add fuel to their case that the president has obstructed justice.

That might damage Trump, though some of his supporters say the impeachment drive could actually boost his re-election chances by showing him at loggerheads with Washington-based political foes.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Graham argued that the Trump administration's approach to policy in Ukraine is "incoherent" and officials are "incapable of forming a quid pro quo". But we would like to invite readers who can afford to do so, and for whom The Times of Israel has become important, to help support our journalism by joining The Times of Israel Community.

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