As public hearings loom, Pence aide meets with U.S. House committees

As public hearings loom, Pence aide meets with U.S. House committees

The complaint led Democrats to formally launch their impeachment inquiry, which has led to an avalanche of testimony from several witnesses, including current and former diplomats or administration officials who have largely corroborated the whistleblower's account.

House investigators expect to hear Thursday from the first person from Vice President Pence's staff to give testimony in the impeachment probe.

Former national security adviser John Bolton has been summoned to the Capitol for a deposition on Thursday but is not expected to appear.

Days after reviewing the Mueller Report, Attorney General William Barr prepared a summary of its findings which was quite charitable to President Donald Trump.

Several other US officials from the executive branch have defied calls to testify this week, ratcheting up tensions between House Democrats and Trump's Republicans over the probe.

Trump went on to claim that the Dept. of Justice "already ruled that the call was good", which does not appear to be accurate. The assistance is alleged to have been held hostage until Ukraine agreed to investigate Trump political foe Joe Biden as well as the idea that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 USA election.

Democrats have been releasing transcripts of previous closed-door interviews this week as they prepare the first public impeachment hearings next week.

"Those open hearings will be an opportunity for the American people to evaluate the witnesses for themselves, to make their own determinations about the credibility of the witnesses, but also to learn firsthand about the facts of the president's misconduct", the intelligence committee's Democratic chairman, Adam Schiff, said on Wednesday.

Bill Taylor, the top American diplomat in Ukraine, repeatedly raised concerns about linking US military aid to investigations into the president's rivals. He's relayed in private his understanding that there was a quid pro quo, with Trump holding up military aid to Ukraine as the USA ally faced threats from neighboring Russian Federation.

A U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence Committee official said on Thursday that Bolton has threatened to take the committee to court if it subpoenas him. Marie Yovanovitch, who was abruptly pulled from her post as US ambassador to Ukraine in May, will testify on November 15.

The committees released a transcript of closed-door testimony by one of those witnesses on Wednesday.

"That was my clear understanding: security assistance money would not come until the president [of Ukraine] committed to pursue the investigation", Taylor said under questioning, according to the transcript.

If the Democratic-controlled House votes to impeach Trump, the Republican-controlled Senate would then hold a trial on whether to remove Trump from office.

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