Left Menu
Development News Edition

UPDATE 3-Democrats vow to insulate impeachment probe from 'sham investigations'

Reuters | Washington DC | Updated: 12-11-2019 23:28 IST | Created: 12-11-2019 23:26 IST
UPDATE 3-Democrats vow to insulate impeachment probe from 'sham investigations'
Representative image Image Credit: ANI

The impeachment inquiry into U.S. President Donald Trump will not be allowed to become a venue for "sham investigations" into Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden and his son, the head of a congressional committee leading the probe said on Tuesday. Representative Adam Schiff, the Democratic head of the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, made the vow as the White House and its Republican allies in Congress set up lines of defense ahead of public hearings that begin on Wednesday.

Schiff, who is spearheading the investigation into whether Trump pressured Ukraine to target one of the Republican president's domestic political rivals, also said he would not allow the hearings to be derailed by a debunked conspiracy theory that Ukraine - not Russia - meddled in the 2016 U.S. election. Some Republicans have defended Trump's dealings with Ukraine by saying he was motivated by a desire to root out corruption in the Eastern European nation and get to the bottom of the election meddling four years ago.

The inquiry will enter a critical phase on Wednesday when lawmakers hold their first public, televised hearings and begin to question witnesses. The proceedings will start at 10 a.m. EST (1500 GMT). Schiff's comments in a note to committee members suggested he would not allow Republicans to call Biden's son Hunter and the whistleblower who triggered the impeachment probe after a Trump phone call with Ukraine's leader as witnesses.

As leader of the Democratic majority on the intelligence panel, Schiff controls which witnesses testify. The witnesses this week will be U.S. diplomats who voiced concern over Trump asking Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden and Hunter, who was on the board of a Ukrainian gas company, on unspecified allegations of corruption.

The anonymous whistleblower set off the impeachment probe after Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in a phone call on July 25 to investigation the Bidens. The inquiry and hearings "will not serve as venues for any Member to further the same sham investigations into the Bidens or into debunked conspiracies about 2016 U.S. election interference that President Trump pressed Ukraine to undertake for his personal political benefit," Schiff wrote in the note.

Schiff, who has become a key target of Trump's attacks in recent weeks, added that the panel would not "facilitate" any effort to threaten, intimidate or retaliate against the whistleblower, a U.S. intelligence official. Only intelligence committee members and staff would be allowed to ask questions in the hearings, said Schiff, adding that Republicans' list of suggested witnesses was being evaluated and additional witnesses would be announced this week.


The investigation, formally launched six weeks ago by Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, has shadowed Trump's presidency with the threat that he could be removed from office even as he seeks re-election next year.

"President Trump's pressure campaign was 'out of bounds,' and every time he insists that it was 'perfect' he is saying that he is above the law," Pelosi said on Twitter. Trump is the fourth U.S. president to face impeachment. None were removed from office, although Richard Nixon resigned as he faced almost certain impeachment in 1974 over the Watergate scandal.

Trump has denied any wrongdoing and branded the investigation a hoax. In a tweet on Tuesday, he said the Bidens should be called to testify in the impeachment probe. Biden has denied any wrongdoing related to Ukraine by him or his son. The president also suggested on Tuesday that he would likely release the transcript of an April 12 conversation with Zelenskiy "before week's end" but gave no other details.

The transcript is from a call with Zelenskiy after the Ukrainian was elected president but before he took office. The White House did not release a summary of the call - known as a readout - when it took place seven months ago. Congressional Republicans on the three House panels conducting the impeachment inquiry, in a memo to party leaders reviewed by Reuters, said that weeks of closed-door testimony have not established that Trump committed an impeachable offense.

For the past two weeks, House investigators have been releasing transcripts of interviews conducted behind closed doors with witnesses, including U.S. diplomats who have expressed concerns about dealings with Ukraine by administration officials and the president's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani. Trump has intensified his attacks on the investigation ahead of the televised public hearings, which threaten to crowd out other issues like the economy and immigration as voters turn their minds to the November 2020 election.

He issued a series of impeachment-related tweets late on Monday, including accusing Schiff of fabricating transcripts. There has been no suggestion by any witness or Republicans on the panels that the transcripts were inaccurate.

House Democrats consider the open hearings that will start on Wednesday as crucial to building public support for a vote on articles of impeachment - formal charges - against Trump. If that occurs, the 100-seat Republican-controlled Senate would hold a trial, but Republicans have so far shown little interest in removing Trump from office.



South Africa's COVID-19 response: Surprising outcomes or just poor data management?

South Africa has been committed to improving its health information system and shows that a robust digital has considerable scope to improve healthcare for the entire population. But the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted that significant ga...

Post-COVID-19 Nigeria needs a robust Health Management Information System to handle high disease burden

Nigeria is among a few countries that conceptualised a health management information system HMIS in the early 90s but implementation has been a challenge till date. Besides COVID-19, the country has a huge burden of communicable and non-com...

Morocco COVID-19 response: A fragile health system and the deteriorating situation

Learning from its European neighbors, Morocco imposed drastic measures from the initial stages of the COVID-19 outbreak to try to contain its spread. The strategy worked for a few months but the cases have surged after mid-June. In this sit...

COVID-19: Argentina’s health system inefficiencies exaggerate flaws of health information system

You can recover from a drop in the GDP, but you cant recover from death, was the straightforward mindset of Argentinas President Alberto Fernndez and defined the countrys response to COVID-19. The South American nation imposed a strict...


Latest News

London mayor requests $7.4 bln bailout for Transport for London - FT

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has called for a 5.7 billion pounds 7.37 billion bailout package for Londons transport operator, in an attempt to keep the capitals transport system going for the next 18 months, the Financial Times reported httpson....

Legislation introduced to boost India-US clean energy and climate cooperation

A top Democratic senator on Wednesday introduced a legislation in the US Senate to establish a forum for bilateral cooperation with India on clean energy technologies and energy transmission. Introduced by Senator Robert Menendez, a ranking...

Trump issues fresh rare earth mining executive order

U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday ordered his Cabinet secretaries to look into the countrys reliance on rare earths in his latest bid to end Chinas dominance of the industry. The move could lead to tariffs, quotas or other possible i...

Australia's Victoria reports 800th COVID-19 death, other states ease restrictions

Australias second-most populous state - epicentre of the countrys COVID-19 outbreak - reported its 800th death from the virus on Thursday, although case numbers held steady. Victoria state accounts for 90 of national COVID-19 deaths. Austra...

Give Feedback