US President Donald Trump has once again blasted the rapidly progressing impeachment inquiry against him after Democrats in the House of Representatives released more damaging details of two testimonies as part of the probe.
On Friday, House investigators leading the impeachment probe released the testimony of Alexander Vindman, a US Army officer and Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, and Fiona Hill, a former White House adviser on Russia.
Both testified about their concerns that Trump pushed Ukrainian officials to investigate former US Vice President Joe Biden and his son.
Democrats in the lower chamber of Congress launched an impeachment inquiry against Trump in September after a whistleblower alleged the Republican president pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, who had served as a director for Ukrainian energy company Burisma.
Democrats have been releasing transcripts of the closed-door impeachment investigation as they prepare for public hearings in Congress next week.
According to the transcript of his testimony, Vindman said the US Ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, said at a White House meeting on July 10 that Ukrainian officials would have to open an investigation of the Bidens and Burisma for Zelenskiy to get an Oval Office meeting with Trump.
“He was calling for something, calling for an investigation that didn’t exist into the Bidens and Burisma,” Vindman said. “The Ukrainians would have to deliver an investigation into the Bidens.”
Vindman was among the US officials in the White House monitoring Trump’s call two weeks later on July 25 with Zelenskiy, a main focus of the impeachment probe.
His account of the meeting at the White House was supported by Fiona Hill, the former senior director for European and Russian affairs on the National Security Council.
His comments provide Democrats more information in their probe to determine if Trump exploited US foreign policy to pressure Ukraine into carrying out a corruption investigation into Biden, a potential rival in the 2020 presidential election.
The impeachment inquiry enters a critical phase next week when House committees hold impeachment hearings in public. Former US ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, who was abruptly recalled by Trump in May, will testify on November 15.
Trump has lashed out at Democrats for leading the impeachment inquiry that now threatens his presidency.
On Friday, he continued to rail against the probe, saying there is no need to hold public hearings because he did nothing wrong.
“They shouldn’t be having public hearings,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “This is a hoax. This is just like the Russian witch hunt.”