The United States on Wednesday entered a new phase in its history when two key witnesses who are top US diplomats in Ukraine, for the first time, publicly testified against President Donald Trump after weeks of close-door testimony.
The public inquiry was launched against Trump by Democrats for abusing the power of the presidency by withholding political support and US security assistance from Ukraine until President Volodymyr Zelenskyy agreed to announce investigations involving Trump’s political opponents.
The two witnesses identified as William Taylor and Deputy Assistant Secretary George Kent testified before the US House of Representatives Intelligence Committee in an inquiry that threatens Trump’s presidency even as he seeks re-election in 2020.
Both Taylor and Kent testified about their concerns regarding pressure by Trump and allies to get Ukraine to investigate Democratic political rival Joe Biden in a dramatic hearing that pitted Democratic and Republican politicians against each other.
Reports say both Taylor and Kent testified for more than five hours before the Intelligence Committee which is leading the Democrat-led House impeachment inquiry.
“The portrait that their testimony paints was one of an attempt that ran through the president, [Acting Chief of Staff] Mick Mulvaney, Ambassador Sondland, Ambassador [Kurt] Volker on down to Rudy Giuliani in which the president sought to advance his personal political interest at the expense of the United States national security,” said Representative Adam Schiff, chairman of the Intelligence Committee.
“The president did that by pressing this vulnerable ally to get involved in the next presidential election in a way that the president thought would advance his reelection prospects,” Schiff told reporters after the hearing.
Trump had earlier expressed fears he may lose power in the ongoing impeachment probe launched by Democrats.
Worried by the fast-moving pace of the impeachment inquiry, Trump had exhorted fellow Republicans to get tougher and fight for him, saying the Democrat-led US House of Representatives wants to impeach him “as quick as possible” over his request that Ukraine investigate a political rival.
Trump made the comments weeks ago during a White House Cabinet meeting as Democrats sought to build public support for the impeachment inquiry.