Impeachment shatters Perry's peaceful exit from Trump Cabinet

Mr Gordon Sondland's new details appear to bolster the whistle-blower complaint that led to the inquiry

The impeachment inquiry is centred on a July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in which the United States president asked the Ukrainian leader to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, who is also a frontrunner in the 2020 Democratic presidential race, and his son, Hunter, who had served on the border of a Ukrainian gas company.

Analysts say that by holding open hearings, the Democrats are trying to expand public support for the impeachment inquiry and step up their offensive toward Trump's impeachment. The request was allegedly linked to USA military aid.

House Democrats requested Mulvaney's testimony just weeks after a public press conference at the White House in which he seemingly admitted that the administration engaged in a quid pro quo deal, to release Ukrainian military aide in exchange for an investigation into the Biden family, and telling reporters to "get over it". The proceedings will start with witnesses who have testified in private about the back-channel Ukrainian policy that Trump pursued through his personal lawyer, former New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, and the heat placed on Ukraine to take actions that could influence the US presidential campaign. Yovanovitch was ousted in May on Trump's orders and Taylor replaced her; both have testified about their concerns with the administration's policy on Ukraine. A good illustration of this is the testimony released Wednesday from William B. Taylor Jr., former special envoy to Ukraine.

Earlier this year, he told the Ukrainian journalist: "We are so-called three friends, three friends are [Energy] secretary [Rick] Ambassador Perry [Kurt] Volcker and myself, we Our duty is to supervise our US-Ukrainian relationship between the highest level of US government and the highest level of Ukrainian government".

Questions are being asked about Mr Sondland's admission that he was given a "special assignment" in Ukraine by President Trump, despite the fact that Ukraine is not in the EU. According to him, incriminating testimony from other witnesses "refreshed my recollection about certain conversations". huh, you know that testimony I just heard?

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"I don't want to give credibility to a corrupt witch hunt", Trump told reporters.

That testimony dovetails with the "no harm, no foul" point Trump's defenders have made, namely, that the aid to Ukraine was eventually released without Zelenskiy publicly calling for an investigation of the Bidens or of Ukraine's involvement in the 2016 election.

"I think there's more evidence to the effect that the president shook down Ukraine, tried to cover it up, and threatened to and then withheld security assistance to Ukraine than there is evidence that the sun will come up in the East tomorrow", Heck said.

In other words, Volker viewed some of what was going on in the July 25 phone call as puffery.

Jon Healey is a columnist for the Los Angeles Times. For your security, we've sent a confirmation email to the address you entered.

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