President Donald Trump speaks in the Diplomatic Room of the White House in Washington. Picture: Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP
President Donald Trump speaks in the Diplomatic Room of the White House in Washington. Picture: Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP

US House to hold vote to formalise Trump impeachment inquiry

By Gretel Johnston Time of article published Oct 29, 2019

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Washington - House Democrats will hold a vote this week to formalise their impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, according to US news reports Monday.

The resolution will come up for a vote on the floor of the House, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a letter to fellow Democrats. She said the resolution "affirms the ongoing, existing investigation that is currently being conducted by our committees as part of this impeachment inquiry."

She also said it establishes the procedure for future investigative steps and would "eliminate any doubt as to whether the Trump administration may withhold documents, prevent witness testimony, disregard duly authorized subpoenas, or continue obstructing the House of Representatives."

Pelosi made the comments in a letter sent Monday to her House colleagues. It was quoted by NBC News and other US news outlets. The vote is to take place Thursday, the reports said.

White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham issued a statement saying the White House wouldn't be able to comment fully until it saw the text of the letter.

But she added that Pelosi "is finally admitting what the rest of America already knew - that Democrats were conducting an unauthorized impeachment proceeding, refusing to give the President due process, and their secret, shady, closed door depositions are completely and irreversibly illegitimate."

Republicans for weeks have called for a formal House vote.

"It's been 34 days since Nancy Pelosi unilaterally declared her impeachment inquiry," House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy tweeted. "Today's backtracking is an admission that this process has been botched from the start."

Referring to House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, he said Republicans "will not legitimize the Schiff/Pelosi sham impeachment."

The White House complained in a letter to top Democrats earlier this month that it would not cooperate with the impeachment inquiry, which is looking into whether Trump unduly pressured Ukraine for personal political gain.

Meanwhile, a top White House Ukraine expert is to testify to House impeachment investigators on Tuesday about a "troubling" phone call US President Donald Trump had in July with Ukraine's new president Volodymyr Zelensky, CNN and the New York Times report.

According to a copy of his opening statement obtained by CNN, the expert, Army Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Vindman, the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, plans to say that he was so troubled by the Trump-Zelensky phone conversation that he reported his concerns to a superior.

Vindman is to tell investigators he felt an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and the Ukrainian natural gas company connected to Biden's son, Hunter, would undermine US national security, according to CNN.

Trump reportedly pressed Zelensky for such an investigation multiple times during the July 25 telephone call.

"I was concerned by the call. I did not think it was proper to demand that a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen, and I was worried about the implications for the U.S. government's support of Ukraine," Vindman plans to tell lawmakers, according to his opening statement as cited by the US broadcaster.

Vindman registered internal objections twice about Trump and his inner circle were treating Ukraine, out of what he called a "sense of duty," he plans to tell the inquiry, according to a draft of his opening statement obtained by The New York Times.

dpa

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