Impeachment inquiry: President ‘overheard asking about investigations’

President Donald Trump was allegedly overheard asking about “investigations” he wanted Ukraine to pursue, a senior diplomat has told the impeachment inquiry.
Top diplomats are giving evidence about accusations the president asked Ukraine’s leader to investigate political rival Joe Biden and Mr Biden’s son.

William Taylor, a top US diplomat in Ukraine, revealed new information that his staff had told him they overheard Mr Trump on the phone in a restaurant asking about “the investigations”.

They alleged he was talking to another diplomat, Ambassador Gordon Sondland, the day after Mr Trump’s July phone call to the Ukrainian president.
Mr Taylor testified that Mr Sondland – the US ambassador to the EU – told the president the Ukrainians were ready to move forward.

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“It’s a little unusual for the US ambassador to the EU to play a role in Ukraine policy,” Mr Taylor said.

He also said one of his staffers was told “President Trump cares more about the investigations of Biden” than he does about the Ukraine.

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Devin Nunes, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, argued Mr Trump would have a “perfectly good reason for wanting to find out what happened” if there were any indications Ukraine meddled in the 2016 presidential election.
The impeachment inquiry, which could see the president removed from office, was ignited by a whistleblower’s complaint that Mr Trump withheld military aid while pressing Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate the Bidens.

Image: William Taylor testified that there were two channels of US foreign policy in Ukraine
Mr Taylor’s testimony alleges that Mr Trump suggested the US would be at a “stalemate” with the Ukraine if President Zelensky did not commit to the investigations.
He testified there were two channels for US foreign policy in Ukraine – one “regular” and the other “highly irregular”.
The “irregular” foreign policy channel was being used by the president’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuiliani, to guide requests, Mr Taylor alleged.
He said that as the channels “diverged”, he became “increasingly concerned” and that he had sat “in astonishment” when the order came for military aid to be withheld.
The diplomat alleged that President Zelensky did not want to be used as an “instrument” in a US presidential re-election campaign.
Some Republicans have implied that US officials attempted to block investigations into Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, sitting on the board of Ukrainian company Burisma.
But another witness, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent, said he had not heard any US official attempt to stop investigations.
Mr Kent said he had raised concerns about the issue in 2015, saying it could give the “perception of a conflict of interest”.
He did not go into detail about Mr Trump’s conversation with Mr Zelensky.

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Speaking at the inquiry, Devin Nunes claimed the proceedings were a smear campaign against the president.
The Republican alleged the witnesses had gone through secret auditions and that the read-out of the call between Mr Trump and Mr Zelensky was “made up”.
He said the inquiry was part of a “scorched earth war” the Democrats had been waging against Mr Trump.
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham called the proceedings “boring” and said it was a “colossal waste” of taxpayer time and money.
The president himself has repeatedly described the inquiry as a “witch hunt” and said earlier that he was “too busy” to watch the first hearing – although later criticised the “television lawyers” appearing.

Source : Sky News