Democratic lawmakers on Monday published the first set of transcripts of closed-door testimonies from top U.S. diplomats as part of their impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump’s dealings with Ukraine.
The release of transcripts of former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch and senior State Department official Michael McKinley is the latest stage of the probe into whether Trump, a Republican, pressured Ukraine into helping discredit his political rival Joe Biden, a Democrat.
“As we move towards this new public phase of the impeachment inquiry, the American public will begin to see for themselves the evidence that the committees have collected,” the chairs of the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight and Reform committees wrote in a statement on Twitter.
“The transcripts of interviews with Ambassadors Yovanovitch and McKinley demonstrate clearly how President Trump approved the removal of a highly respected and effective diplomat based on public falsehoods and smears against Ambassador Yovanovitch’s character and her work in support of long-held US foreign policy anti-corruption goals.”
The committee heads from the Democratic-run House of Representatives released hundreds of pages of testimony which, they say, shows how Trump used millions of dollars of U.S. military aid to Ukraine as leverage against the eastern European country’s president.
“Ambassadors Yovanovitch and McKinley’s testimony also demonstrates the contamination of US foreign policy by an irregular backchannel that sought to advance the president’s personal and political interests, and the serious concerns that this activity elicited across our government,” the statement said.
House Democrats launched an impeachment inquiry against Trump on Sept. 24 following claims by a whistle-blower that the president had sought to pressure Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 presidential elections.
In a July 25 phone call, Trump allegedly made about $400m military aid contingent on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky launching a probe into Biden, a former US Vice President, and his son, Hunter, a businessman, over unsubstantiated corruption allegations.
The elder Biden is a leading candidate in the race to win the Democratic nomination and challenge Trump in 2020. Trump, a Republican, has accused Democrats of time-wasting and says the inquiry amounts to a “lynching”.