Ahead of impeachment probe, US President Donald Trump said on Friday 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.
“They shouldn’t be having public hearings. This is a hoax,” Trump said in a statement before leaving on a trip to Georgia.
Trump’s comment was in contrast to the stand usually taken by his allies, who up to now have complained about the lack of transparency in the investigations behind closed doors conducted by committees of the lower house, Efe news reported
The first televised testimonies are slated to begin on November 13.
The committees, headed by the Democrats, are investigating whether Trump committed abuse of power by pressuring the Ukrainian government into investigating one of his political rivals, former Vice President Joe Biden, and the business dealings of his son Hunter with the Ukrainian gas company Burisma.
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.
“I don’t want to give credibility to a corrupt witch hunt,” Trump said.
I was “not concerned” about what has been discovered up to now in the transcripts of closed-door testimonies that the committees have published, the President added.
Trump also said he was thinking about revealing information from a first telephone call he had last April with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
“I will give it if they (the Democrats) want it. I don’t like doing it because it’s such a bad precedent,” Trump said.
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 agency)