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Impeachment probe: Donald Trump defiant about cooperating with Congress

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to the press as he departs the White House for his annual visit to Walter Reed National Military Medical Centre on October 4, 2019.

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to the press as he departs the White House for his annual visit to Walter Reed National Military Medical Centre on October 4, 2019.   | Photo Credit: AFP

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According to U.S. media reports, the White House is set to tell Congress that it will not cooperate with demands from lawmakers for evidence and testimony.

A defiant President Donald Trump refused to confirm on October 4 that he will cooperate with an impeachment investigation in the U.S. Congress.

“I don't know, that's up to the lawyers,” he said at the White House.

The Democratic leadership in the House of Representatives is probing whether Mr. Trump abused his office by pressuring Ukraine to investigate his 2020 presidential election rival Joe Biden.

According to U.S. media reports, the White House is set to tell Congress that it will not cooperate with demands from lawmakers for evidence and testimony.

The Trump administration reportedly wants the Democrats first to hold a vote formally opening the impeachment inquiry, something that would force Congress members in difficult swing states to come out in public on the hugely divisive issue.

Mr. Trump once again denied that he’d done anything wrong in his relations with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, insisting that his only interest was “looking at corruption”.

Mr. Trump has repeatedly claimed that Mr. Biden and his son were involved in corruption in Ukraine. “He is pillaging these countries,” Mr. Trump said.

However, there is no credible evidence available that Mr. Biden was involved in such schemes. Mr. Trump’s opponents say he has pushed foreign leaders to probe Mr. Biden as a way to smear the man currently leading the pack in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Asked if he had ever asked foreign countries to investigate anyone who was not his political rival, Mr. Trump said: “We would have to look.”

Chronology of events in the Trump-Ukraine scandal

July 25

Mr. Trump holds a 30-minute telephone conversation with Ukraine’s new President Volodymyr Zelensky, a former professional comedian who was elected in May 2019. Earlier in July, Mr. Trump — without explanation — suspended hundreds of millions of dollars in military assistance to Ukraine, which had been approved by Congress. The aid is eventually released by the White House on September 11.

August 12

An anonymous whistleblower in the U.S. intelligence community files an internal complaint about the Trump-Zelensky call, describing it as a matter of “urgent concern”.

 

September 18

The Washington Post publishes a report about the whistleblower complaint, saying that it involves a “promise” made by Mr. Trump to a foreign leader.

September 19

Michael Atkinson, the Inspector-General of the Intelligence Community, testifies before the House Intelligence Committee about the whistleblower complaint, but declines to reveal its contents, saying that acting director of national intelligence Joseph Maguire has barred him from doing so.

Mr. Trump reacts for the first time, calling the Post story “fake news” and stating that when he speaks with foreign leaders, he is well aware that there are likely “many people” listening. 

September 22

Mr. Trump confirms that he discussed Joe Biden, his potential Democratic rival in the 2020 presidential election, and Mr. Biden’s son, Hunter, in his call with Mr. Zelensky.

Mr. Hunter Biden served on the board of a Ukrainian gas company while his father was Vice-President, but has not been officially accused of any wrongdoing.

September 24

Amid a cascade of press reports that Mr. Trump pushed Mr. Zelensky to investigate the Bidens, Nancy Pelosi, Democratic Speaker of the House of Representatives, announces the opening of an impeachment inquiry of the President for abuse of power. “The president must be held accountable,” Ms. Pelosi says. “No one is above the law.”

Mr. Trump calls it “PRESIDENTIAL HARASSMENT.”

 

September 25

The White House releases a rough transcript of the Trump-Zelensky call. It confirms that the President repeatedly asked the Ukrainian leader to investigate the Bidens and to “look into” it with Rudy Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, and with Attorney-General Bill Barr.

September 26

The House Intelligence Committee releases the whistleblower’s complaint, which accuses Mr. Trump of “using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 US election”. It also accuses White House lawyers of seeking to “lock down” access to the call transcript because of its politically sensitive nature.

Ms. Pelosi and several 2020 Democratic presidential candidates accuse the White House of engaging in a “cover-up”.

September 27

House committees subpoena Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for Ukraine-related documents.

Kurt Volker, the U.S. special representative on Ukraine, resigns after Congress orders him to provide a deposition as part of the impeachment inquiry.

September 30

House Democratic leaders order Mr. Giuliani to turn over Ukraine-related documents by October 15.

October 1

Mr. Pompeo pushes back against the House subpoenas, accusing Democrats of trying to “bully” U.S. diplomats into testifying against the White House.

October 2

Mr. Trump steps up his personal attacks on Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee who is spearheading the impeachment probe, saying he should be arrested for “treason”.

October 3

Mr. Trump openly calls on China as well as Ukraine to investigate the Bidens and dismisses his Democratic opponents as “maniacs” pursuing “impeachment crap.”

Mr. Volker testifies behind closed doors on Capitol Hill.

Text messages between U.S. diplomats are released indicating the Trump administration tried to tie military aid to Ukraine to an investigation into the Bidens.

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Printable version | Jan 26, 2020 8:29:17 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/impeachment-probe-donald-trump-defiant-about-cooperating-with-congress/article29597921.ece

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