Pelosi accuses Trump of bribery as impeachment inquiry proceeds

Clay Curtis
November 16, 2019

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday brushed aside the Latin phrase "quid pro quo" that Democrats have been using to describe Trump's actions with a more colloquial one: Bribery.

"The bribe is to grant or withhold military assistance in return for a public statement of a fake investigation into the elections", said the California Democrat.

The remarks come on the eve of a second day of public hearings in the Democratic-led impeachment inquiry of Trump that have focused on his dealings with Kyiv.

In a message to Trump and response to the GOP criticism, Pelosi said, "If the president has something that is exculpatory - Mr. President that means you have anything that shows your innocence -then he should make that known".

But one Republican, Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, said Trump's live tweeting at the ambassador was wrong. The money, approved by Congress to help a U.S. ally combat Russia-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country, was later provided to Ukraine.

Marie Yovanovitch, the former US ambassador to Ukraine who was ousted from her position, is scheduled to testify Friday in a public hearing as part of the impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump.

More hearings are coming, with back-to-back sessions next week and lawmakers interviewing new witnesses behind closed doors.

Mr Nunes hewed to the Republican strategy of arguing that Mr Trump did nothing wrong or impeachable when he asked Mr Zelensky to investigate Mr Joe Biden, a key 2020 re-election rival.

Article II of the Constitution holds that the president and other civil federal officials "shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors".

It's a dramatic, complicated story, and the Democrats' challenge is to capture voter attention about the significance of Trump's interactions with a distant country.

Republicans have said House Democrats already have chose to pass articles of impeachment, but Pelosi denied that was the case, saying the inquiry must play out before any decision can be made. Trump also asked Zelenskiy to investigate a debunked conspiracy theory embraced by some Trump allies that Ukraine, not Russian Federation, interfered in the 2016 U.S. election.

On Friday, diplomat Marie Yovanovitch gets her turn to tell the public how she feels about her treatment by the Trump administration.

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Pelosi compared Trump's actions with former President Richard Nixon's conduct in the Watergate corruption scandal that led him in 1974 to become the only U.S. president to resign. Pelosi said Trump's actions to enlist a foreign power to help him in a USA election and the obstruction of information about that - she called it a cover-up - "makes what Nixon did look nearly small".

Democrats have claimed the call was part of an attempted quid pro quo in exchange for withheld aid and a White House meeting between two Presidents Trump and Zelenskiy who, however has said he felt no improper pressure during the call and was not aware of the hold on the aid.

An estimated 13.8 million viewers across 10 broadcast and cable television networks watched the first day of proceedings, according to Nielsen ratings data.

The hearing comes the same week that two other diplomats-George Kent and William Taylor-testified that they believed Giuliani tried to dig up dirt on Biden and his son, Hunter.

The former USA ambassador to Ukraine watched in disbelief as her reputation was publicly sullied in a slow-burning campaign to discredit her.

Referred to just as "the woman" on Trump's July 25 call to President Zelenksy, Yovanovitch is a career diplomat who served under the Bush and Obama administrations.

Yovanovitch and others have described Rudy Giuliani, Trump's personal lawyer, as leading what one called an "irregular channel" outside the diplomatic mainstream of U.S. -Ukraine relations. The secretary also told her there had been "a concerted campaign against" her, and there had been pressure to remove her since 2018. Trump "should not frivolously throw out insults, but that's what he does", she said. Holmes was at dinner with Gordon Sondland, when the Ambassador to the European Union called up Trump.

"Ambassador Sondland responded that President Trump cares more about the investigations of Biden, which Giuliani was pressing for", Taylor testified.

Republican lawmakers called Taylor's account hearsay.

The Associated Press reported Thursday that a second US Embassy official also overheard Trump's conversation.

Trump told reporters after the hearing that he knew "nothing" about the call with Sondland.

Democrats are aiming to settle the question of Trump's impeachment before the end of the year.

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