WASHINGTON: US Democrats charged aggressively into an impeachment investigation of President Donald Trump on Friday, ordering Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to turn over Ukraine-related documents and scheduling testimony for witnesses to alleged abuse of power by the US leader.
Three House committees gave Pompeo one week to produce the documents, saying multiple State Department officials have direct knowledge of Trump’s efforts to enlist the Ukraine government’s help in his US campaign for reelection.
“The Committees are investigating the extent to which President Trump jeopardised national security by pressing Ukraine to interfere with our 2020 election and by withholding security assistance provided by Congress to help Ukraine counter Russian aggression,” they said.
Public support is growing for impeachment after the release of an anonymous whistleblower’s complaint on Thursday, reportedly made by a CIA analyst who had worked in the White House.
It accused Trump of pressuring Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky in a July 25 phone call to supply dirt on former vice president Joe Biden, the favourite to represent Democrats against Trump in the 2020 presidential election.
The complaint also revealed that White House aides, alarmed at Trump’s implicit offer to release aid in exchange for Zelensky’s help, sought to hide the record of the call in a highly secure computer system normally used only for the country’s most top-secret intelligence.
Congressional investigators on Friday announced interviews starting next week with five State Department officials, including former ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, whom Trump reportedly forced out earlier this year for resisting his efforts to pressure Kiev to probe Biden.
The list also includes US special representative on Ukraine Kurt Volker, who resigned Friday after being ordered to answer questions in the impeachment investigation, a source familiar with the matter told AFP.
The whistleblower complaint said Volker met senior Ukrainian officials on how to “navigate” Trump’s demands of Zelensky.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi declared that the impeachment investigation would move quickly, saying evidence from the whistleblower’s complaint against Trump of abuse of power and an attempted cover-up was unambiguous.
“The clarity of the president’s actions is compelling and gave us no choice but to move forward,” Pelosi said. - AFP