US President Donald Trump said on Saturday that he’s prepared to release the transcript sought by House Democrats of his first phone call with his Ukraine’s counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky in April, as soon as on Tuesday.
The witch hunt continues,” Trump told media while departing the White House to attend the Louisiana State University Tigers vs. Alabama Crimson Tide football game.
“The Republicans have never been so united, and I think the people of our country have never been so united,” he added.
Trump called Zelensky to congratulate him in April after his victory in that country’s presidential election, and then again in July, Efe news reported.
Representative Devin Nunes, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, has submitted a list of eight individual witnesses that he would like to testify as part of this week’s public hearings into whether the President committed an impeachment offence in his dealings with Ukraine.
Three senior US diplomats who worked on Ukraine issues were scheduled to appear in open hearings, all of whom have testified behind closed doors recently that they were alarmed by the July call in which the president appeared to link defence aide to Ukraine with his demands that the country launch investigations into the Hunter Biden’s work for an energy company there.
Schiff said he was evaluating the Republican witness requests – but suggested that he would not allow the hearings to be used to launch an investigation of Biden, who is running for the Democratic presidential nomination and could face-off with Trump in next year’s general election.
“This inquiry is not, and will not serve, however, as a vehicle to undertake the same sham investigations into the Bidens or 2016 that the President pressed Ukraine to conduct for his personal political benefit, or to facilitate the President’s effort to threaten, intimidate, and retaliate against the whistleblower who courageously raised the initial alarm,” Schiff said in a Saturday statement.
Earlier on Friday, Trump had said that there should be no public hearings during the House of Representatives’ impeachment enquiry against him and directed White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney not to appear before the committees investigating Trump’s phone call to Ukraine.
On Thursday, Trump administration had ordered officials not to participate in the House enquiry. But lawmakers have spent weeks hearing from current and former government witnesses, largely from the State Department, as one official after another has relayed his or her understanding of events.
After almost a month of calling for greater transparency in the enquiry, the White House changed its strategy this week by prohibiting several of its officials from even testifying behind closed doors before the lower house committees.
Last month, US former national security advisor was so alarmed by a White House–linked effort to pressure Ukraine to investigate Democrats, he told aide Fiona Hill to alert the National Security Council’s chief lawyer, Hill told House impeachment investigators in her 10-hour deposition.
Late September, the impeachment inquiry, which House Speaker Nancy Pelosi initiated over a complaint by an anonymous whistleblower, is looking into White House’s alleged efforts to withhold military aid to have Ukraine investigate a Trump’s political rival, Joe Biden.
(With inputs from IANS)