03 de julio de 2020
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Trump's greatest interest in Ukraine was to investigate Biden, says diplomat

(Updates: Adds info on Taylor and Kent's testimony, Trump's remarks on hearings and other material)

Washington, Nov 13 (efe-epa).- The major interest US President Donald Trump had in Ukraine was ensuring that Kyiv conduct investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden, a top US diplomat said in sworn testimony on Wednesday in the House Judiciary Committee impeachment hearing.

Trump has been accused of trying to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky into investigating Biden but has denied any wrongdoing.

William Taylor, the highest-ranking US diplomat in Ukraine, said that Biden, one of the front-running candidates for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, was Trump's main concern.

Taylor made the statements during his testimony before House lawmakers on Wednesday in a hearing which could lead to an impeachment trial of Trump in the Senate if a majority of congressmen believe he abused the power of the presidency by asking Ukraine to investigate a political rival.

Taylor has said that he told top US officials that Trump's decision to condition release of some $400 million in military aid to Ukraine on a commitment by Kyiv to investigate the Bidens was "crazy."

The diplomat also revealed the existence of a telephone call that occurred in July between Trump and the US ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, another of the protagonists in the controversy - a call that was conducted by Sondland at a restaurant in the presence of one of Taylor's team members, David Holmes.

In the call, Holmes - who could hear the president's voice on Sondland's cellphone, and thus his side of the conversation - said that Trump asked the EU envoy about "the investigations."

After the call, Taylor's assistant asked Sondland about the president's opinion on Ukraine and testified that Holmes told him that "Ambassador Sondland responded that President Trump cares more about the investigations of Biden, which (Trump's personal attorney Rudy) Giuliani was pressing for."

Ukraine has strengthened its relationship with the US since 2014, when Moscow annexed the Crimea - an integral part of Ukraine - and over the past five years, the US Congress has authorized $1.6 billion in military assistance to Kyiv.

Taylor said Trump's personal lawyer, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, was the driving force behind a "highly irregular" back-channel of communication with Ukraine that was undermining the official objectives of US diplomacy in the East European country. Those official objectives include energy reforms and an ongoing fight against corruption, which has been endemic in that country.

The phone call between Trump and Sondland allegedly occurred on July 26, a day after the now-controversial telephone conversation in which the US president asked his Ukrainian counterpart to do him a favor and investigate the Bidens.

Taylor said the US president discussed two things in that July 25 call - the delivery to Ukraine of $400 million in military aid and the scheduling of a White House meeting between Trump and Zelensky, on the condition that Kyiv publicly commit to investigate the Bidens and Democrats.

The other witness testifying simultaneously with Taylor on Wednesday was Deputy Assistant Secretary in the European and Eurasian Bureau at the US Department of State George Kent, who appeared wearing a colorful bowtie, causing something of a stir on the social networks.

Kent, a career diplomat who was the No. 2 US official at Washington's embassy in Ukraine from 1025-2018, was very critical of Trump's attitude, saying that he did not think the US should ask other countries to launch investigations of a political nature against the rivals of sitting US leaders because such acts undermine the rule of law.

Trump, meanwhile, said he was "too busy" to watch the public hearing live.

"I'm too busy to watch it. It's a witch hunt, it's a hoax, I'm too busy to watch it. So, I'm sure I'll get a report. There's nothing," the president said.

However, the president has shown signs that he is very concerned about the hearings, having retweeted 22 Twitter messages related to the hearings since they began in the House and even before they began on Wednesday morning had fired off seven tweets on the issue.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Joe Biden's campaign said that the former vice president also was not following the hearings live, but noting that the House was doing its job and Biden was doing his: namely working to defeat Trump in the 2020 election.

In response to the many mentions of his name in the Wednesday impeachment hearing testimony, Giuliani told CNN that he had "done nothing wrong" in terms of his work on Ukraine, saying that anything he had done was on a personal level and had nothing to do with Trump, whom he has tried to shield from the scandal.

The public House impeachment hearings are being broadcast live and without commercial interruption by the main television networks.

These are the first impeachment hearings of a US president in two decades since President Bill Clinton had to answer questions about his relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky, proceedings in which he was ultimately acquitted.

Contenido relacionado

Trump's greatest interest in Ukraine was to investigate Biden, says diplomat

Washington, Nov 13 (efe-epa).- The major interest United States president Donald Trump had in Ukraine was investigations into former vice president Joe Biden, a top US diplomat said.

Trump has been accused of trying to pressure Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelenski into investigating Biden but has denied any wrongdoing.

Bill Taylor, the highest-ranking US diplomat in Ukraine, said that Biden, one of the Democratic candidates for the 2020 presidential elections, was the main concern.

Taylor made the statements during his testimony before House of Representatives lawmakers on Wednesday, which could lead to a political trial against Trump if it is shown that he abused the power of the presidency by asking Ukraine to investigate Biden.

The diplomat revealed the existence of a telephone call that occurred in July in a restaurant between Trump and the US ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, another of the protagonists in the controversy and was heard by one of Taylor’s team members.

After the call, Taylor's assistant asked Sondland about the president's opinion on Ukraine and he allegedly replied that the president cared about Biden's investigations, according to what Taylor said Wednesday.

Ukraine has strengthened its relationship with the US since 2014, when Moscow annexed the Crimean peninsula and in the past five years, US Congress has authorized $1.6 billion in military assistance to Ukraine.

Taylor said Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani was the leader of a highly irregular channel of communication with Ukraine that was undermining the official objectives of US diplomacy in the European country, Washington had requested energy reforms and fight against corruption.

The phone call between Trump and Sondland allegedly occurred on 26 July, a day after a controversial telephone conversation in which the US president asked his Ukrainian counterpart Vladimir Zelenski to do him a favor.

Taylor said the US president discussed two things, the delivery to Ukraine of $400 million in military aid and the scheduling of a meeting at the White House between Trump and Zelenski, on condition of a Kyiv commitment to investigate Biden and the Democrats.

The public hearings are being broadcast live by the main television networks.

It was the first impeachment hearings of a US president in two decades since President Bill Clinton had to answer questions about his relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky, in which he was acquitted. EFE-EPA

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Trump impeachment: Protagonists in the investigation

Washington, Nov 13 (efe-epa).- The first public hearings in the impeachment inquiry into United States President Trump began in Washington on Wednesday.

Trump has been accused of trying to pressure Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelenski into investigating former vice-president Joe Biden but has denied any wrongdoing.

Here are the protagonists in the inquiry:

BILL TAYLOR AND GEORGE KENT, VOICES OF THE STATE DEPARTMENT

Two diplomats who are still in the State Department were the first to testify before House of Representatives lawmakers, weeks after appearing privately in the lower house.

Taylor is an interim US ambassador in Ukraine, and his testimony in October was one of the most revealing so far.

He said when he took office last June, he realized there was a parallel and "informal" channel to manage the relationship with Kiev in Washington.

Kent is US deputy assistant secretary of state in charge of Ukraine policy, and in his testimony behind closed doors, he said White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, acted under Trump’s orders to freeze aid to Ukraine to obtain an investigation into Biden.

MARIE YOVANOVITCH, FORMER US AMBASSADOR

Yovanovitch was the US ambassador in Ukraine until May and has accused Trump of pressuring to have her expelled from office.

In her closed-door deposition, she described her dismissal as a coordinated campaign against her.

ALEXANDER VINDMAN, EYEWITNESS

Vindman, a lieutenant colonel in the US Army who disrupted Trump's argument that all witnesses in the investigation had "second or third hand" information.

The military officer, the main Ukraine expert at the White House National Security Council, personally heard a call on 25 July in which Trump asked Zelenski to investigate Biden.

GORDON SONDLAND, A CHANGING STORY

The ambassador to the EU, together with Energy Secretary Rick Perry and special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker, formed an axis known as the "three amigos" who, on Trump's orders, coordinated the policy towards Kiev with the president's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.

Sondland previously denied any negligence in his initial appearance but last week told investigators the others' testimonies had "refreshed his memory" and admitted he had personally informed Kiev in September that they would not hand over aid unless it investigated Biden.

RUDY GIULIANI, TRUMP’S LAWYER

The former mayor of New York began to instigate a theory that Biden committed corruption in Ukraine while he was in power in 2016, and began to coordinate a parallel policy towards the country, according to the investigation.

The FBI is investigating whether foreign intelligence agents may have exploited Giuliani's financial interests in Ukraine to influence the White House.

MICK MULVANEY, TRUMP’S RIGHT-HAND MAN

Trump's chief of staff made a resounding mistake in October by acknowledging to the press that the White House withheld military assistance to Ukraine with the goal of Kiev investigating the Democrats and the 2016 elections, although he later tried to back down and denied that the delivery of aid was conditional.

Vindman and other witnesses have claimed that Mulvaney had an agreement with Sondland to communicate to the Ukrainians that they would not get a meeting with Trump if they did not investigate the Democrats.

JOHN BOLTON, THE ACE IN THE SLEEVE

Bolton was Trump's national security adviser during the events under investigation, and reportedly said he had concerns about what he described as the “drug deal” the administration was “cooking up”.

He was fired in September by Trump, is writing a book and seems willing to criticize his former boss, but has asked a court to decide if he must obey the White House, which has forbidden him from testifying. EFE-EPA

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