Saturday, 07 December, 2019

Trump fumes over impeachment as public hearings loom

President Donald Trump Enlarge Image AFP via Getty Images
Noel Elliott | 13 November, 2019, 01:06

On Monday, Democrats released the transcript of Laura Cooper's October 23 closed-door testimony in which the deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia testified that Trump personally requested that money for Ukraine be frozen.

CBS News: "Trump wanted Barr to clear his name on Ukraine by holding news conference" - "President Trump wanted Attorney General William Barr to hold a press conference saying the president had not broken any laws during the July 25 phone call during which he urged Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate political rival Joe Biden, CBS News has confirmed, according to multiple sources".

The panel also released testimony from Catherine Croft and Christopher Anderson, both advisers to Ambassador Kurt Volker on Ukraine policy.

The House impeachment inquiry on Monday released a transcript of the testimony of Laura Cooper, the deputy assistant defense secretary for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia.

Republican senators have largely shielded him from critical hearings and Democrats have only held control of the House since January.

As the Democratic-led investigation heads into a critical new public phase this week, Republican staff of the House of Representatives Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees released an 18-page memo to update party lawmakers on evidence gathered to date. "Read the Transcript! There was NOTHING said that was in any way wrong".

In fact, almost every witness who has appeared before the impeachment inquiry - including Trump appointee and National Security Council official Tim Morrison - has testified that Trump was not looking at corruption generally, something NSC official Fiona Hill called a "code" for going after the Bidens, including the 2020 Democratic presidential candidate.

Asked how important the almost $400 million in military aid that President Trump had temporarily withheld while pressing Ukraine to launch probes into Joe Biden, his son and the 2016 president election, Cooper called it essential. Critics denounced the lawmakers' actions, saying they had compromised USA security by taking phones into the secure room.

Gophers vs. Penn State game thread
But the Gophers blew past that, accumulating 121 yards while also peppering the Nittany Lions with their pass game. This was the most points Penn State had allowed all season, a feat the Gophers accomplished in the first half.

"My sense is that all of the senior leaders of the US national security departments and agencies were all unified in their - in their view that this assistance was essential", said Cooper, an assistant defense secretary.

"We didn't want to signal any lack of support" for Ukraine, Cooper said, explaining that Pentagon officials anxious pulling back on military assistance would send the wrong message to Russia, as Ukraine worked to negotiate a peace agreement to end a years-long civil war against Russian-backed separatists in its eastern territories.

"They are trying to negotiate a peace with Russian Federation, and if they are seen as weak, and if they are seen to lack the backing of the United States for their armed forces, it makes it much more hard for them to negotiate a peace on terms that are good for Ukraine", she said.

Democrats, who control the House, have argued that Trump abused his power in pressing a vulnerable US ally to carry out investigations that would benefit Trump politically.

Cooper's testimony undercuts one of the key arguments from Trump's defenders, that the administration could not have attempted to coerce Ukraine into any sort of quid pro quo because the Ukrainians had no idea the aid was being withheld.

Mr Trump argued on Twitter over the weekend that he was not guilty of misconduct and that the probe was politically driven. Hunter Biden worked on the board of a Ukrainian gas company.

If that occurs, the 100-seat Republican-controlled Senate would hold a trial on the charges. The next step is hearings by the Judiciary Committee, under Chairmen Jerry Nadler, a longtime Trump nemesis, to decide whether the evidence is strong enough to support formal charges, or articles of impeachment.

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