Trump confirms he will not cooperate with impeachment investigation
President Donald Trump takes questions from the press after the US-Japan Trade Agreement and US-Japan Digital Trade Agreement were signed in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on Oct. 7, 2019. EPA-EFE/Ron Sachs/POOL
Washington, Oct 8 (efe-epa).- President Donald Trump, via the White House counsel, confirmed Tuesday that he is not planning to cooperate in the impeachment investigation opened against him by the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives and that, therefore, he will ignore the subpoenas issued by the Democratic opposition claiming that the process is "illegitimate" and "violates the Constitution."
White House legal counsel Pat Cipollone, in Trump's name, sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the chairmen of the committees leading the inquiry in which he explains the president's position vis-a-vis the impeachment proceedings launched by Democrats after a whistleblower filed a complaint stating that Trump was said to have pressured the Ukrainian president to investigate one of his key political rivals, former Vice President Joe Biden, and his family.
"You have designed and implemented your inquiry in a manner that violates fundamental fairness and constitutionally mandated due process," Cipollone wrote, going on to state that House Democrats' recent actions violate "the Constitution, the rule of law, and every past precedent."
He also wrote that the inquiry is an attempt to subvert the 2016 presidential election results and influence the 2020 presidential campaign.
"In order to fulfill his duties to the American people, the Constitution, the Executive Branch, and all future occupants of the Office of the Presidency, President Trump and his Administration cannot participate in your partisan and unconstitutional inquiry under these circumstances," Cipollone wrote.
The letter could give ammunition to some Democratic lawmakers who have suggested that they could subject Trump to impeachment proceedings not only for the alleged pressure he exerted on Ukraine but also for not allowing them to adequately investigate this issue, a move that they argue would constitute obstruction of justice, which could be the focus of another article of impeachment.
Cipollone's letter comes just hours after Trump said he ordered the US ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, not to testify on Tuesday before the congressional committees investigating the alleged political pressure he put on Ukraine.
"I would love to send Ambassador Sondland, a really good man and great American, to testify, but unfortunately he would be testifying before a totally compromised kangaroo court, where Republican's rights have been taken away, and true facts are not allowed out for the public," Trump said in a Twitter post.
Robert Luskin, an attorney for the diplomat, said Sondland "is profoundly disappointed that he will not be able to testify," adding that the State Department ordered the envoy to the EU not to appear before Congress.
"Ambassador Sondland hopes that the issues raised by the State Department that preclude his testimony will be resolved promptly. He stands ready to testify on short notice, whenever he is permitted to appear," Luskin said in a statement.
Sondland, among other officials, has been caught up in congressional Democrats' investigation of Trump's phone-call request that Ukraine look into alleged corruption involving Joe Biden, a leading contender for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Democrats in the House launched the impeachment inquiry on Sept. 24 targeting Trump after an anonymous whistleblower (reportedly an intelligence officer who was not a direct witness to the call) filed a complaint in August alleging that the president had used the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 election.
While Ukraine is not an EU member, Trump had asked Sondland to handle contacts between his administration and Kiev.
Joe Biden's son, Hunter, began serving as a paid board member of Ukrainian natural gas company Burisma Holdings in 2014 while his father was Barack Obama's vice president. According to various media reports, Burisma had been under investigation prior to 2014 over permits granted by Ukraine's Ministry of Ecology but was not being probed at the time Hunter took his position.
Trump had temporarily frozen nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine just ahead of his July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, prompting suspicion that the request to investigate the Bidens was linked to the release of the funds.
Trump vehemently denies that any quid pro quo was at work and says he withheld aid over frustration with the amount of monetary assistance provided to Ukraine by other countries.
The aid was eventually released on Sept. 11.
Memo shows White House official's alarm at Trump-Zelensky call
Washington, Oct 8 (efe-epa).- The United States president’s July 25 phone call with his Ukrainian counterpart had so alarmed a White House official that he called a colleague at the CIA the next day to share his concerns, according to a memorandum.
The memorandum, now in the possession of congressional investigating committees, was written by the Central Intelligence Agency official who eventually would file a formal complaint under federal whistleblower laws about Donald Trump's interactions with Ukraine, according to EFE/Dow Jones.
The memo was shared with Congress last week by the Intelligence Community's inspector general, Michael Atkinson, a congressional official said.
Trump's conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is at the heart of a Democratic-led impeachment inquiry into whether the US president abused his office by urging Ukraine to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
The two-page memorandum appears to provide further evidence that the call prompted early and deep concerns among some White House aides as well as officials at US intelligence agencies.
The memorandum's existence was first reported by Fox News and the New York Times.
The whistleblower's identity hasn't been made public, and the name of the White House official who contacted him on July 26 hasn't been released.
Trump has defended his conduct with Ukraine, and his administration has broadly rebuffed congressional demands for testimony and documents in the impeachment inquiry.
An attorney for the whistleblower didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. At least one additional whistleblower, who has firsthand knowledge of the circumstances around the call, has come forward, according to lawyers representing both that individual and the CIA officer.
In his formal complaint filed on Aug. 12, the initial whistleblower — who acknowledged he didn't have firsthand knowledge — wrote that "multiple White House officials with direct knowledge" of the phone call said Trump pressed Zelensky to investigate the Bidens.
"The White House officials who told me this information were deeply disturbed by what had transpired in the phone call," he wrote. EFE-EPA