A whistle-blower report released by a congressional panel on Thursday said US President Donald Trump used his office to solicit Ukraine’s interference in the 2020 election to advance his personal political interests, risking US national security.
The Democratic-led US House of Representatives Intelligence Committee released a declassifed version of the report made by the whistle-blower, which triggered weeks of controversy and prompted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to launch a formal impeachment inquiry into the Republican president. “I am deeply concerned that the actions described below constitute ‘a serious or flagrant problem, abuse, or violation of law or executive order’ that ‘does not include differences of opinion concerning public policy matters,’ consistent with the definition of an ‘urgent concern’,” the report said.
Trump pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate Democratic presidential front-runner Joe Biden, in coordination with US Attorney General William Barr and Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, according to a summary of a July telephone call released by the Trump administration on Wednesday.
Moments after the whistle-blower report was made public, the committee began a hearing.
Trump calls inquiry a ‘joke’
Trump on Wednesday dismissed as a “joke” the grounds laid out for the impeachment inquiry into him, as Democrats stood firm in accusing the US president of a “mafia-style shakedown” of his Ukrainian counterpart. Trump denied claims he abused his office by repeatedly urging Zelensky to probe his rival Joe Biden — as confirmed in a call transcript released by the White House.
The next explosive episode in the rapidly unfolding impeachment drama is set for Thursday, when acting director of national intelligence Joseph McGuire testifies on Capitol Hill.
"They are getting hit hard on this witch hunt because when they look at the information, it's a joke," said the president, who struck an uncharacteristically subdued tone at his first news conference since Democrats launched an official impeachment inquiry.