The Trump impeachment inquiry: What we've learned so far
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[November 01, 2019]
(Reuters) - U.S. lawmakers charted a
path to public hearings on the impeachment of President Donald Trump on
Thursday by a vote of 232 to 196 in the House of Representatives.
House Democrats began an inquiry on Sept. 24 to determine whether Trump
abused his office for political gain when he asked Ukrainian President
Volodymyr Zelenskiy in a July phone call to investigate political rival
Joe Biden, a former vice president.
The contents of the call were revealed in a whistleblower complaint by
an intelligence official.
Testimony by current Trump administration officials past and present, a
rough transcript of the phone call released by the White House, texts
between U.S. diplomats and other documents have largely confirmed the
whistleblower's account. (Graphic on inquiry: https://tmsnrt.rs/30NregM)
Trump denies wrongdoing.
Here's what we know so far:
* A rough transcript of the call on July 25 between Trump and Zelenskiy
confirmed the whistleblower's most damaging allegation - that Trump
asked Zelenskiy to investigate Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company on
which Hunter Biden, the son of Joe Biden, had served as a board member.
Trump, a Republican, also asked Zelenskiy to "do us a favor" and
investigate a debunked conspiracy theory that a hacked Democratic
National Committee computer server was in Ukraine, according to the
* Text messages between Trump's Ukraine special envoy, Kurt Volker, his
European Union Ambassador Gordon Sondland and his personal attorney,
Rudy Giuliani, show that pressure was exerted on Zelenskiy to make a
public statement committing himself to investigating Burisma before he
would be allowed to meet with Trump at the White House, part of the
"quid pro quo" - Latin for a favor for a favor - that is at the heart of
the impeachment inquiry.
* Sondland, a hotelier and Trump donor, testified to congressional
investigators that Trump largely delegated Ukraine policy to Giuliani.
He said Trump told him and other officials at a White House meeting to
coordinate with Giuliani, who at the time was seeking to dig up dirt on
Biden, a leading candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in
2020 to run against Trump. Sondland expressed disquiet in his testimony
about allowing a private citizen to have such an influential role in
U.S. foreign policy.
* In testimony considered the most damning to date, the top U.S.
diplomat in Ukraine, William Taylor, said Trump made there lease of U.S.
security aid to Ukraine contingent on Kiev publicly declaring it would
carry out the investigations that the U.S. president sought.
Trump has contended that there was no quid pro quo related to the $391
million to help Ukraine fight Russia-backed separatists in eastern
Ukraine that he had withheld. Taylor said Trump had also made a White
House visit by Zelenskiy contingent on his opening the investigations.
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President Donald Trump makes a statement at the White House
following reports that U.S. forces attacked Islamic State leader Abu
Bakr al-Baghdadi in northern Syria, in Washington, U.S., October 27,
2019. REUTERS/Jim Bourg
* In remarks on Oct. 17 that stunned many in Washington, Trump's
acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, acknowledged that the aid to
Ukraine was indeed linked to Trump's request for investigations into
the debunked conspiracy theory and Hunter Biden. Mulvaney later
contradicted himself in a statement from the White House that ruled
out a quid pro quo.
* The former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch,
testified that Trump had ousted her from her position based
on“unfounded and false claims” after she had come under attack by
Giuliani. She was abruptly recalled from Kiev in May. She expressed
alarm over damage to diplomacy under Trump and warned about “private
interests” circumventing “professional diplomats for their own gain,
not the public good.”
* Volker, the former special envoy to Ukraine, testified that he had
helped to connect Giuliani with a top aide to Ukraine's president as
the president's personal lawyer continued to seek information
damaging to the Bidens. Volker said he was unaware of Giuliani's
mission at the time and that in the now released text messages
between him, Sondland and Giuliani there was no explicit mention of
* Michael McKinley, a former adviser to Secretary of State Mike
Pompeo, testified that he quit a few days before his appearance to
congressional committees because of departmental leadership's
unwillingness to defend Yovanovitch from the attacks on her. He also
told investigators that some career diplomats had had their careers
derailed for political reasons.
* Trump's former national security adviser John Bolton expressed
alarm about Giuliani's involvement in Ukraine policy and the efforts
to press Zelenskiy to give Trump political help, the U.S.
president's former Russia adviser Fiona Hill testified. Democratic
investigators want to talk to Bolton.
* A top adviser to Trump on Ukraine has testified that he was so
alarmed after hearing Trump ask Ukraine's president to investigate
Biden in the July 25 phone call that he reported the matter to a
White House lawyer out of concern for U.S. national security. Army
Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman was the first person to have
heard the phone call to testify at the inquiry.
* Two foreign-born Florida businessmen who helped Giuliani
investigate the Bidens in Ukraine have been indicted for a scheme to
illegally funnel money to a pro-Trump election committee and other
U.S. political candidates. They have pleaded not guilty.
(Compiled by Ross Colvin; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)
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