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Tuesday, Dec 10, 2019

‘2nd and 3rd hand witnesses’: Trump discredits testifiers before public hearings

Donald Trump said they were “Never Trumpers”, and implied that they could not be trusted.

world Updated: Nov 12, 2019 21:38 IST

Washington
US President Donald Trump has sought to discredit officials who will be testifying before congressional impeachment investigators in public hearings starting Wednesday.
US President Donald Trump has sought to discredit officials who will be testifying before congressional impeachment investigators in public hearings starting Wednesday.(Reuters image)
         

US President Donald Trump has sought to discredit officials who will be testifying before congressional impeachment investigators in public hearings starting Wednesday, calling them “2nd and 3rd hand witnesses” and “NeverTrumpers”, who, by implication therefore, cannot be trusted.

William Taylor, the first witnesses scheduled to testify, is a highly regarded former-diplomat who was called back to service by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to run the US embassy in Kyiv. Trump has a problem with Taylor’s lawyer, who, he has said is a “Never Trumper”.

Taylor and the others scheduled for these public hearings have already testified in closed-door sessions. And transcripts of those hearings, which continue to be released, show in great details how the Trump White House tried to force Ukraine to investigate the president’s political rivals.

The president has insisted he has done nothing wrong. “Why is such a focus put on 2nd and 3rd hand witnesses, many of whom are Never Trumpers, or whose lawyers are Never Trumpers, when all you have to do is read the phone call (transcript) with the Ukrainian President and see first hand?,” he tweeted Tuesday, on the eve of the start of public hearings.

Trump is referring to a July 25 phone call between him and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, which is at the heart of the impeachment inquiry launched by the Democratic-led House of Representatives in September. He continues to cite the transcript, which is actually a summary of the call, as evidence in support of his claim that he did not demand an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden, for latter’s association with a Ukrainian energy company in return for freeing up nearly $400 million in security aid and an Oval office meeting.

Trump has promised to release the transcript of an earlier call with Zelensky from April. But missed his self-appointed deadline on Tuesday. He now expects to release it by the end of the week.