WORL

US diplo­mats to star in im­peach­ment hear­ings next week

The Korea Times - - FRONT PAGE -

The first open im­peach­ment hear­ings into U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump will be­gin next week, the con­gress­man lead­ing the probe said Wednes­day, as the in­ves­ti­ga­tion heads into a highly an­tic­i­pated pub­lic phase.

WASH­ING­TON (AFP) — The first open im­peach­ment hear­ings into U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump will be­gin next week, the con­gress­man lead­ing the probe said Wednes­day, as the in­ves­ti­ga­tion heads into a highly an­tic­i­pated pub­lic phase.

Wil­liam Tay­lor, Wash­ing­ton’s top diplo­mat to Ukraine, and deputy as­sis­tant sec­re­tary of state George Kent are sched­uled to tes­tify next Wednes­day.

Peo­ple will be able to see “the de­gree to which the pres­i­dent en­listed whole depart­ments of gov­ern­ment in the il­licit aim of try­ing to get Ukraine to dig up dirt on a po­lit­i­cal op­po­nent,” said House In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee chair­man Adam Schiff.

In a closed-door de­po­si­tion, Tay­lor bol­stered the prin­ci­pal ac­cu­sa­tion against Trump — that the pres­i­dent abused his of­fice by with­hold­ing mil­i­tary aid to black­mail Kiev into launch­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tions that could help him po­lit­i­cally.

Kent, who heads the Eu­ro­pean and Eurasian bureau at the State Depart­ment, ex­pressed con­cerns about White House ef­forts to re­move the then-am­bas­sador to Ukraine, Marie Yo­vanovitch.

Yo­vanovitch her­self told in­ves­ti­ga­tors she was ousted be­cause Trump’s per­sonal lawyer Rudy Gi­u­liani and oth­ers wanted her out of the way as they con­ducted Ukraine pol­icy out­side tra­di­tional diplo­matic chan­nels. She is sched­uled to ap­pear next Fri­day.

Schiff has al­ready be­gun re­leas­ing tran­scripts of pri­vate wit­ness tes­ti­mony but it is widely be­lieved that the trio’s ap­pear­ance at pub­lic hear­ings could have a more dra­matic im­pact on the Amer­i­can pub­lic.

The Capi­tol Hill hear­ings will be broad­cast live as law­mak­ers from both par­ties and trained staff ques­tion wit­nesses, many of whom the White House has sought to dis­credit.

Re­pub­li­can law­mak­ers have spent weeks ac­cus­ing Democrats of hold­ing “sham” se­cret hear­ings in the U.S. Capi­tol base­ment and de­mand­ing a more open process.

Schiff said that mo­ment in the fast-mov­ing in­quiry had ar­rived, and that Amer­i­cans would be able to hear the ac­counts of po­ten­tial abuse of power di­rectly from wit­nesses who were caught up in the scan­dal.

The hear­ings will let the Amer­i­can peo­ple “eval­u­ate the wit­nesses for them­selves, to make their own de­ter­mi­na­tions about the cred­i­bil­ity of the wit­nesses, but also learn first-hand about the facts of the pres­i­dent’s mis­con­duct,” Schiff said.

Quid pro quo

An anony­mous whistle­blower com­plaint in Septem­ber high­lighted po­ten­tial abuse of power by the pres­i­dent when he tele­phoned Ukraine’s leader and asked him to in­ves­ti­gate for­mer vice pres­i­dent Joe Bi­den, Trump’s po­ten­tial 2020 elec­tion ri­val.

The com­plaint led Democrats to launch their im­peach­ment in­quiry, which has led to an avalanche of wit­ness tes­ti­mony from cur­rent and for­mer diplo­mats or ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials who have largely cor­rob­o­rated the whistle­blower’s ac­count.

Trump has at­tacked the com­plaint as “phony” and has de­manded the whistle­blower’s iden­tity be re­vealed.

Trump loy­al­ists in Congress have been dis­parag­ing the im­peach­ment process, as House Mi­nor­ity Leader Kevin Mc­Carthy sought to do af­ter Schiff ’s an­nounce­ment.

“Don’t be fooled. Pub­lic hear­ings are not the same as FAIR hear­ings,” Mc­Carthy tweeted.

Next week’s mar­quee ap­pear­ance may well be by Tay­lor, whose full tes­ti­mony tran­script was made pub­lic Wednes­day by Schiff.

It painted a damn­ing pic­ture of Trump of­fer­ing a quid pro quo. Ac­cord­ing to the tes­ti­mony, his ad­min­is­tra­tion con­di­tioned both mil­i­tary aid and a sought-af­ter Ukraine meet­ing with Trump on Kiev’s will­ing­ness to launch an in­ves­ti­ga­tion of Burisma, a Ukrainian en­ergy firm con­nected to Bi­den’s son.

Tay­lor told in­ves­ti­ga­tors that it was “my clear un­der­stand­ing, se­cu­rity as­sis­tance money would not come un­til the pres­i­dent [of Ukraine] com­mit­ted to pur­sue the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.”

Don­ald Trump

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Korea, Republic

© PressReader. All rights reserved.