WH dismisses new impeachment transcripts

Clay Curtis
November 6, 2019

The White House has directed all administration officials not to cooperate with the Demorats' impeachment probe, casting it as "illegitimate" and "unfair".

Press secretary Stephanie Grisham says the testimony of Gordon Sondland, the Trump administration's ambassador to the European Union, didn't "identify any solid source" for his acknowledgement that he understood by September that American aid to Ukraine was linked to a public statement promising to investigate corruption in the country.

In his testimony, Sondland said the President had told him directly that "there is no quid pro quo".

Yovanovitch testified on October 12 that she felt threatened by Trump, telling Zelenskiy on the call that she was going to "go through some things".

Transcripts of the inquiry's closed-door interviews of current and former White House officials could be released as early as this week, U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told the Associated Press on Friday.

An anonymous person filed a complaint accusing Trump of the abuse, triggering the inquiry and prompting the White House to release a transcript of the call.

US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland said he knew that the Trump administration withheld almost US$400 million (S$540 million) in American aid while pressuring Ukraine to investigate President Donald Trump's political rivals, according to an excerpt of his testimony released on Tuesday (Nov 5).

Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney speaks in the White House briefing room in Washington.

Volker testified that he believed that Ukraine did not become aware of the hold on USA aid until Politico published a story on the matter, based on leaked information, on August 28, more than a month after the July 25 call. "Corruption was mentioned", said Sondland, a hotel magnate who gave $1 million to Trump's inaugural committee.

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Democrats Tuesday released hundreds of pages of testimony from two top diplomats: Kurt Volker, the former special envoy to Ukraine, and Gordon Sondland, the U.S. Ambassador to the European Union. "It doesn't sound good". It puts Sondland in the middle of what national security officials saw as an attempt by the White House to leverage almost $400 million in security assistance for investigations that could benefit Trump politically.

In his new testimony, Mr. Sondland said he believed that withholding the aid - a package of $391 million in security assistance that had been approved by Congress - was "ill-advised", although he did not know "when, why or by whom the aid was suspended".

Ueland said Trump wants "the spending process to continue to unfold and the government to continue to be funded".

These no-shows are just the latest examples of the contemptuous war Mr. Trump and his allies have waged on Congress and its legitimate, constitutional oversight role, starting well before the impeachment inquiry.

House investigators are releasing more transcripts in the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump. Two more White House officials, an energy adviser and a budget official, declined to appear Tuesday before investigators, even after one received a subpoena.

Mulvaney, for days, tried to walk back his statement, after critics claimed he acknowledged a "quid pro quo", but the chairs blasted his efforts Tuesday.

The White House's excuse for total non-cooperation was that the House had not voted to authorize the impeachment inquiry or offered the president certain procedural rights.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., on Tuesday laid out the steps for a Senate trial, but said that the outcome is probably already known. "I was very concerned", she said.

Most of those who have testified before the House panel are from the ranks of the State Department, including recalled US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovonavitch, whose testimony was released Monday.

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