Donald Trump asserts 'absolute right, perhaps even a duty' to investigate corruption

Donald Trump asserts 'absolute right, perhaps even a duty' to investigate corruption

Donald Trump asserts 'absolute right, perhaps even a duty' to investigate corruption

As the impeachment inquiry focuses on Ukraine, Trump doubled down Thursday by publicly calling on China to also investigate Biden and his family, potentially setting off more alarms in Congress. They cited logistical challenges, noting Ukraine's Parliament formally set the date of Zelenskiy's inauguration just a week before it took place on May 20.

Trump and Giuliani have also promoted an alternative theory of 2016 election interference, which puts Ukraine, not Russian Federation, at the center, at odds with the 2017 findings of the US intelligence community and special counsel Robert Mueller's 2019 report. Trump has not shared any evidence of wrongdoing.

Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani told The Journal that Trump "remembered he had a problem" with Yovanovitch when Giuliani mentioned her earlier this year. He's also calling on China, which is run by an authoritarian government, to investigate a US citizen.

He later alleged without evidence that China had a "sweetheart deal" on trade with the US because of the Bidens.

He also expressed concern that U.S. Representative Eliot Engel, the Democratic House foreign affairs chairman, had ceded oversight of U.S. foreign policy to the Intelligence Committee because that panel, he said, would lead the questioning of Volker. "They call that a payoff".

But on Wednesday, Trump said of releasing transcripts: "I hope I don't have to do it again". It does "not want to be involved or seen involved in the United States presidential elections", said Jeffrey Bader, a former special assistant to then-President Barack Obama on national security and a top Asia adviser.

Zelensky, who was elected in April 2019, echoed the US President's sentiment, saying, "I agree with you 100%". That's when Trump asks him for a "favor", leading to his request about the Bidens.

It was the first major clash of the days-old impeachment probe, pointing to a dramatically mounting political and legal siege as Trump battles to save his presidency.

On Twitter, Federal Election Commission Chairwoman Ellen Weintraub reupped a statement she issued this summer, writing that "It is illegal for any person to solicit, accept, or receive anything of value from a foreign national in connection with a USA election". The agency polices campaign finance laws.

Reps. Adam Schiff, Elijah Cummings and Eliot Engel released text messages provided by Kurt Volker, the former USA special envoy to Ukraine who spent more than nine hours on Thursday testifying behind closed doors as the inquiry's first official witness. It was not clear what the 15 investigations pertained to, nor Zlochevsky's role in them.

But his office announced that prosecutors would investigate whether old cases featuring Burisma founder Mykola Zlochevsky, related to the time when Zlochevsky served as a minister in a previous government, were conducted properly. CNN's read is that it reveals "how Giuliani was pushing for the call and for Zelensky to talk up the investigation".

The president's efforts to persuade Ukraine in a July phone call to investigate Mr. Biden have already set off an impeachment inquiry by House Democrats, who are looking at whether the president abused the power of his office for political gain.

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