America’s top diplomat in Ukraine has revealed dramatic new testimony about how Donald Trump pushed for an investigation into his political rival Joe Biden on the first day of public impeachment hearings.
Bill Taylor, the charge d’affaires at the US embassy in Ukraine, used his opening statement to describe a conversation that Mr Trump had with another diplomat which was supposedly overheard by one of his colleagues.
The conversation took place on July 26 – the day after Mr Trump used a phone call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy to urge him to launch investigations into Mr Biden, the former US vice president, and his son.
The conversation was between Mr Trump and Gordon Sondland, America’s EU ambassador who had been pushing Ukraine to launch the Biden probe.
Mr Trump was overheard down the line asked what was happening with “the investigations”, according to Mr Taylor’s testimony. Mr Sondland supposedly responded that Ukraine was ready to move forward with the probes.
After the call, an unnamed diplomat allegedly Mr Sondland asked what Mr Trump thought about Ukraine. Mr Sondland said the president “cares more about the investigations of Biden”, according to Mr Taylor’s testimony.
The revelation that Mr Trump was personally pushing for the investigations and allegedly cared more about securing a probe into his political rival than the country of Ukraine will strengthen the Democrats’ case against Mr Trump.
It was the most dramatic moment in the first public impeachment hearings into Mr Trump’s dealings with Ukraine.
Mr Trump is just the fourth president in US history to face an impeachment investigation. Wednesday’s public hearings are being carried live by many of the country’s major broadcasters, with millions of Americans are expected to watch the historic event unfold in Washington DC.
The impeachment investigation began after it emerged Mr Trump had asked the Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate his political opponent Joe Biden during a July 25 phone call.
Democrats have argued that the request, which came as Mr Trump held back of almost $400 million in US military aid to Ukraine, amounted to an abuse of power in order to influence the 2020 election.
Republicans who sit on the committee holding the session plan to vigorously defend Mr Trump by suggesting there is no evidence there was anything improper in the phone call, or that Mr Trump made the request on a conditional basis