Trump slams Democrats over impeachment inquiry

Trump slams Democrats over impeachment inquiry

The timing of President of Finland Sauli Niinistö's trip to Washington to meet his United States counterpart could hardly be worse, as the media focus was more on the impeachment inquiry against his host over a whistleblower's complaint about Trump allegedly abusing power.

House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings said he meant to subpoena the White House for the Ukraine-related records on Friday, the latest demand for evidence from an administration that has repeatedly resisted such efforts by Democrats.

Pompeo said on October 2 during a visit to Rome that he had listened in on Trump's call with Zelenskiy.

In the call, Mr Trump pressed for an investigation of his Democratic political rival Joe Biden and his son, who worked for a Ukrainian gas firm. "We don't want this to drag on months and months and months, which appears to be the administration's strategy", House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, whose panel leads the inquiry, told a news conference alongside House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Kurt Volker, U.S. special representative for Ukraine, resigned abruptly last Friday following the release of the whistleblower complaint against Trump and his associates.

Democrats have pointed out the call with the newly elected Mr Zelensky took place at the same time Mr Trump made a decision to withhold military aid from Ukraine. Throwing criticism broadly, he assailed Schiff as a "low-life" and said Pelosi's San Francisco has turned into a "tent city" of homeless.

"This country has to find out who this person was, because that person's a spy, in my opinion", Mr Trump said.

In the weeks leading up to the call, Trump ordered the suspension of $400m in military aid for Ukraine, prompting speculation he was using the aid as leverage for information on Biden. House Oversight and Reform Chairman Elijah Cummings wrote in a memo to committee members Wednesday that the action is necessary because the White House has ignored multiple requests. He has said, however, that he would cooperate with Congress.

The subpoena will be directed toward acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and request 13 separate batches of documents related to the July call and other related matters.

Trump made his request to Zelenskiy shortly after he had frozen almost $400 million in aid to Ukraine.

The prosecutor has said the probe pre-dated Hunter Biden's role in the company.

Pompeo asserted that House investigators contacted "State Department employees directly" and told them not to contact State Department lawyers for advice.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a close ally of Trump, acknowledged earlier in the day during a trip to Italy that he had listened in on the call in which Trump asked Zelenskiy to investigate Biden, a former US vice president and a leading contender for the Democratic nomination to face Trump in the 2020 presidential election. He said the State Department would "do our constitutional duty to co-operate" with Congress, but wouldn't tolerate "bullying and intimidation".

On Tuesday Pompeo dismissed summonses from the Democratic committee chairmen for the five witnesses, accusing Democrats of "an attempt to intimidate, bully, and treat improperly" the officials.

"It's what our team, including Ambassador Volker, were focused on", Pompeo said.

He also criticised the president's comments against the whistleblower as "a blatant effort to intimidate witnesses" and "an incitement of violence".

Democrats often note that obstruction was one of the impeachment articles against Richard Nixon, who resigned the presidency in 1974 in the face of nearly certain impeachment.

The Democrats' subpoena request has the potential to become a flashpoint in the showdown between the Republican president and the Democratic-led House of Representatives. They have also subpoenaed Pompeo for documents.

Trump claims the former vice president used his influence to protect his son. The State Department said that Volker has confirmed that he put a Zelensky adviser in contact with Giuliani, at the Ukraine adviser's request. Giuliani said he sent the documents to Pompeo, who told Giuliani he would refer it for investigation, according to CNN. In his phone call with Zelenskiy, Trump called Yovanovitch "bad news".

A whistleblower alleged in an August letter to the inspector general for the intelligence community, Michael Atkinson, that the White House tried to "lock down" Trump's July 25 phone call with the new Ukrainian president because it was anxious about the contents being leaked to the public. The call was about "taking down the threat that Russian Federation poses there in the Ukraine", Pompeo told reporters travelling with him in Italy on Tuesday.

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