Trump brazens out process to impeach him as call details out
In the call, Trump raised allegations, without citing any evidence, that the former US vice-president sought to interfere with a Ukrainian prosecutor’s investigation of his son Hunter.Updated: Sep 25, 2019, 23:32 IST
US President Donald Trump repeatedly prodded Ukraine’s new leader to work with the US attorney general and lawyer Rudy Giuliani to investigate Democratic political rival Joe Biden, according to a rough transcript summarising the call that was released on Wednesday.
In the call, Trump raised allegations, without citing any evidence, that the former US vice-president sought to interfere with a Ukrainian prosecutor’s investigation of his son Hunter.
“There’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that,” Trump said to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
The conversation between the two leaders is one piece of a whistleblower’s complaint, which followed the July 25 call. The complaint is central to the formal impeachment inquiry launched on Tuesday by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
The White House account of the call reveals that Trump was willing to engage a foreign leader to dig up dirt on a political foe and he goes so far as to volunteer his attorney general to help.
But Trump appears to stop short in the call of any explicit quid pro quo, such as linking Ukraine’s help to American military aid or other assistance.
Days before the call, Trump froze nearly $400 million in aid to Ukraine. It was not clear from the summary whether Zelenskiy was aware of that. The US president has insisted he did nothing wrong and has denied that any request for help was tied to the aid freeze.
It’s illegal under federal law to seek foreign government assistance for US elections.
Democrats say it lays the groundwork for the congressional impeachment inquiry.
Trump aides believed that his oblique, message-by-suggestion style of speaking would not lend itself to the discovery of a “smoking gun” in Wednesday’s summary.
‘WITCH HUNT GARBAGE’
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s decision to launch a formal impeachment inquiry of Trump will consume the nation’s attention, grind the work of government to a halt and determine whether the president heads into re-election damaged or emboldened. Pelosi threw the weight of her office behind an impeachment she’s been reluctant to embrace - until allegations surfaced last week that Trump improperly pressured the government of Ukraine.
That has set her on course for a constitutional clash with Trump, who quickly assailed the proceedings as “witch hunt garbage”.
Trump has all but dared Democrats to take this step, confident that the spectre of impeachment will bolster rather than diminish his political support.
“Just so you understand, it’s the single greatest witch hunt in American history, probably in history,” Trump said during a meeting in New York.