The first public hearing held on Wednesday in the US House of Representatives in the framework of a new phase of the impeachment process against the president, Donald Trump, highlights the tycoon’s electoral interests over the relationship between Washington and Ukraine.
The US ambassador to Kiev, William Taylor, has reported during his testimony that, through his assistant who heard a telephone conversation between Trump and the country’s ambassador to the EU, Gordon Sondland, he learned that the president asked the diplomat about the “investigations” and that he replied that the Ukrainians were “prepared to move forward.”
The next day, the assistant asked Sondland directly what Trump thought about Ukraine. “He replied that the leader cared more about investigations of former vice president Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, for whom (Trump’s personal lawyer) Giuliani was pushing.”
Taylor’s words more directly relate to Trump with what the ambassador has described with vivid details as a “highly irregular effort” to place the president’s political interests at the center of US policy on Ukraine.
“I don’t think Trump was trying to end corruption in Ukraine,” said Democratic Congressman Jim Himes. “I think what I was trying to aim at is corruption in Ukraine towards former Vice President Biden and the 2020 elections,” he added.
“If it is not a behavior of an ‘impeachment’, what is it?”, The president of the Intelligence Commission of the House of Representatives, Adam Schiff, has snapped.
The ambassador’s testimony reaffirms the words of his appearance behind closed doors during the impeachment investigation, where he said Trump was conditioning “everything” for an investigation against the Biden in the framework of relations between Washington and Kiev – including military aid and a meeting in the White House with the Ukrainian president. In addition, he has made it clear that the Ukrainians themselves were aware of this at that time.
These statements raise questions about what Trump said to US diplomats who worked on foreign policy issues about Ukraine and show fissures in the president’s version, which said he was trying to end corruption in the country.
The testimony of the head of foreign policy towards Ukraine in the State Department, George Kent – who stressed that Trump was only looking to “find shit” of a political rival to use it in the context of the elections – adds to that of Taylor, who has insisted that “there are no good political reasons” or “good reasons are national security” to withhold military aid to Ukraine even though the White House has reiterated that there were legitimate reasons to do so, as reported by the CNN news network.
For his part, the highest representative of the Republican Party in the commission, Devin Nunes, has alluded to possible conspiracies and has ventured that the Democrats would have agreed with Ukraine to interfere in the 2016 elections and thus try to get Trump to lose the elections .
MULVANEY IN THE EYE OF THE HURRICANE
The White House interim chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, continues in the eye of the hurricane after his name came up several times during the hearings. He has been identified by witnesses as one of the main “players” when deciding to withhold aid to Ukraine.
Likewise, the press conference in which he admitted that there was a ‘quid pro quo’ has also been mentioned even though he denied after saying so. This is a sign that the Democrats might be trying to demonstrate the role played by Mulvaney in pressuring Ukraine to investigate his political rivals.
Mulvaney, meanwhile, has announced that he will file a lawsuit in his attempt to avoid testifying before the lower house committees in the framework of the impeachment process against the president. In addition, their legal maneuvers to avoid appearing have caused negative reactions in the White House.
After hearing the testimonies of Taylor and Kent, Sondland’s situation has varied slightly. The conversation he had with Trump will be subjected to new scrutiny after Wednesday’s hearing.
Republicans have repeatedly described Taylor’s words as a set of comments he has repeated after hearing from third parties. Many of them have insisted that the statements would not serve as evidence in the context of a trial.
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