House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says Congress will establish an “outside, independent” commission to investigate the January 6 attack on the Capitol.
In a letter to lawmakers, Nancy Pelosi said the commission would be modeled on the inquiry into the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and the Pentagon.
She said: “We must get to the truth of how this happened.”
Former President Donald Trump was acquitted by the Senate of inciting the violence.
However, Democrats and some Republicans have backed an independent investigation into the riots, which left five people dead.
Nancy Pelosi said that retired US Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré had, over the past few weeks, been assessing the security needs of the Capitol in light of the attack.
The commission, Nancy Pelosi said, “would investigate and report on the facts and causes” of the attack; “the interference with the peaceful transfer of power”; and the “preparedness and response” of both the Capitol police and other branches of law enforcement.
She also said that, based on Lt. Gen. Honoré’s initial findings, Congress needed to allocate additional funding to “provide for the safety of members and the security of the Capitol”.
A group of House Republicans wrote to Nancy Pelosi on February 15 complaining that their party had not been consulted about the general’s security review.
In the letter, they also demanded to know what Nancy Pelosi knew and the instructions she gave to secure the Capitol ahead of January 6.
House Republican Adam Kinzinger, who called for Donald Trump’s removal after the riots, was condemned by 11 members of his family in a handwritten letter, in which they said he was in cahoots with “the devil’s army”.
Donald Trump survived his second impeachment trial on February 13, after Democrat prosecutors failed to secure the two-thirds majority needed to convict him. He is the only president to have faced the process twice.
The vote split largely along party lines, with seven Republicans joining the Senate’s 48 Democrats and two independents in voting to convict.
The senior Republican in Congress, Senator Mitch McConnell, had voted against conviction on constitutional grounds, but after the vote declared Donald Trump “responsible” for the assault on the Capitol.
Other Republicans have also expressed support for an independent inquiry into the riots, including a close ally of Donald Trump, Senator Lindsay Graham.
In a video message posted to the White House’s Twitter account, President Trump has condemned the violence in the Capitol last week, saying “violence and vandalism have absolutely no place in our country and no place in our movement”.
He did not make any reference to impeachment.
The president ends with a call for unity.
“All of us can choose by our actions to rise above the rancor and find common ground and shared purpose. We must focus on advancing the interests of the whole nation, delivering the miracle vaccines, defeating the pandemic, rebuilding the economy, protecting our national security and upholding the rule of law,” Donald Trump said.
“Today I am calling on all Americans to overcome the passions of the moment, and join together as one American people,” he said.
“God bless you, and God bless America.”
When he was first impeached in 2019, President Trump became part of a small group of rebuked US leaders.
After today, President Trump is the first president to be impeached twice.
Only two other presidents in history have been impeached by the House of Representatives – Andrew Johnson, back in 1868, and Bill Clinton in 1998.
President Richard Nixon stepped down and resigned.
But to date, no president has ever been removed from the White House by Congress.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has stepped up the pressure on VP Mike Pence to act to remove President Donald Trump from office over his role in last week’s storming of Congress.
Lawmakers are expected to bring up a resolution asking VP Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment to declare the president unfit for office.
Mike Pence is said to oppose the idea.
If he refuses, the House will hold a vote to impeach President Trump who had urged supporters to march on the Capitol.
Donald Trump has been accused by Democrats and an increasing number of fellow Republicans over the riot, following a rally in which the president repeated unsubstantiated allegations of vote fraud. Five people died in the attack, including a Capitol police officer.
President Trump has made no public statements since he was banned from social media platforms on January 8.
He is due to leave office on January 20, when Joe Biden will be sworn in as president.
Donald Trump has said he will not attend Joe Biden’s swearing-in ceremony.
Nancy Pelosi wrote to lawmakers saying the House of Representatives would present a resolution on January 11 to formally request that VP Pence invoke the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, which would allow him to remove President Trump from the White House and become acting president.
The House could vote on the resolution on January 12. After that, Mike Pence and the cabinet would be given 24 hours to act before the House’s potential move toward impeachment.
Nancy Pelosi wrote in her letter: “We will act with urgency, because this president represents an imminent threat to both.
“The horror of the ongoing assault on our democracy perpetrated by this president is intensified and so is the immediate need for action.”
Although Mike Pence has appeared to distance himself from the president by saying on January 10 he planned to attend Joe Biden’s inauguration, there is no sign that the vice-president is prepared to invoke the amendment.
In a separate development, First Lady Melania Trump, who rarely makes public comments about political events, condemned January 6 violence, saying the “nation must heal in a civil manner”.
Melania Trump said in a statement called Our Path Forward released by the White House: “I implore people to stop the violence, never make assumptions based on the color of a person’s skin or use differing political ideologies as a basis for aggression and viciousness.”
House Democrats have vowed to press ahead quickly with impeachment. To impeach, in this context, means to bring charges in Congress, and Nancy Pelosi said Democrats could introduce a charge of “incitement of insurrection” against President Trump.
Senior lawmakers say a vote to impeach President Trump in the House could be held by mid-week.
Donald Trump could become the only president in US history to have been impeached twice.
Joe Biden has said impeachment is for Congress to decide, even though he has thought “for a long time President Trump was not fit to hold the job”.
Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman’s twin
brother, Yevgeny Vindman, a senior lawyer for the National Security Council,
was also sent back to the Department of the Army on February 7.
In a statement issued by his lawyer,
Gordon Sondland said: “I was advised
today that the president intends to recall me effective immediately as United
States ambassador to the European Union.
“I am grateful to President Trump for having given me
the opportunity to serve, to Secretary [of State Mike] Pompeo for his
consistent support, and to the exceptional and dedicated professionals at the
US mission to the European Union.
“I am proud of our
accomplishments. Our work here has been the highlight of my career.”
Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman had
reportedly turned up for work at the White House as usual on February 5.
As he left the executive mansion on February
5 for North Carolina, President Trump told reporters: “I’m not happy with him [Lt. Col. Vindman].
“You think I’m supposed to be happy with him? I’m
President Donald Trump has so far
not commented further.
According to White House sources,
Alexander Vindman had been expecting a transfer. He was telling colleagues for
weeks that he was ready to move back to the defense department, where he still
holds active-duty soldier status.
On February 5, Defense Secretary
Mark Esper told reporters his department welcomes back all of its personnel
He added: “And as I said we protect all of our service members from retribution
or anything like that.”
Testifying in Congress last
November, Gordon Sondland was very clear in his testimony that a White House
visit by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was conditional on Kyiv
launching investigations that could be politically helpful to President Trump.
He said: “Was there a quid pro quo [a favor granted in return for
“As I testified previously, with regard to the
requested White House call and White House meeting, the answer is yes.”
Gordon Sondland was at that time
working with President Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, on Ukrainian
policy at the explicit direction of the president.
Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman also
testified last November. He said he was “concerned” after hearing
President Trump’s “improper” phone call on July 25, 2019 with
The call led to Presidnet Trump’s
impeachment in December by the House for abuse of power and obstruction of
Democratic lawmakers argued that President
Trump had dangled US aid in exchange for political favors.
When asked how he had overcome his
fear of retaliation in order to testify, Alexander Vindman testified: “Congressman, because this is
America… and here, right matters.”
President Trump mentioned the
Vindman twins in a tirade against his political enemies at the White House one
day before ousting them.
Eliot Engel, Democratic chairman of
the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, said in a statement: “This is shameful of course.
“But this is also what we should now expect from an
impeached president whose party has decided he is above the law and accountable
to no one. “
However, Republican Congressman
Thomas Massie said he would have fired Alexander Vindman.
He said: “He’s a leaker, not a whistleblower.
“Current Commander in Chief doesn’t take orders from a
In his comments to media on February
5, President Trump said reports that his acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney would
be fired were “false”.
The president said: “I have a great relationship with Mick.”
North Carolina lawmaker Mark Meadows
is being tipped by the Washington rumor mill as a replacement for Mick
Mark Meadows, who is retiring from
the House of Representatives where he led the hardline conservative Freedom
Caucus, traveled with President Trump on Air Force One on February 5.
At a rare White House press conference in October, Mick Mulvaney appeared to
implicate the president in an alleged corrupt deal with Ukraine.
The acting chief of staff told stunned reporters: “We do that all the time.”
President Trump was reportedly outraged by the gaffe.
Mick Mulvaney then walked back his comments in a written statement that said: “Let me be clear, there was absolutely no quid pro quo between Ukrainian military aid and any investigation into the 2016 election.”
Donald Trump’s lawyers have begun
defending him at his impeachment trial, accusing Democrats of seeking to
overturn the result of the 2016 election.
White House Counsel Pat Cipollone
said: “The president did absolutely
President Trump’s defense will last
three days and follows the Democrats’ prosecution case which ended on January
Donald Trump faces two charges
linked to his dealings with Ukraine.
The articles of impeachment accuse
the president of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
President Trump is alleged to have
withheld military aid to pressure the Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky,
into starting a corruption investigation into Donald Trump’s political rival,
Democrat Joe Biden, and his son Hunter.
Democrats also accuse President
Trump of making a visit by Volodymyr Zelensky to the White House contingent on
The president is charged with obstructing
Congress by failing to co-operate with the House of Representatives impeachment
The trial in the Senate will decide
if Donald Trump should be removed from office. This is unlikely as the
Republicans control the Senate and any such move would need a two-thirds
Echoing a line heard from many
Republicans, Pat Cipollone said Democrats were “asking you not only to
overturn the results of the last election… they’re asking you to remove
President Trump from the ballot in the election that’s occurring in
approximately nine months.”
“They are asking you to do something very, very
consequential and, I would submit to you … very, very dangerous,” he said.
Much of the abuse of power charge centers on a phone call in July between
President Trump and President Zelenksy.
Donald Trump’s defense lawyer Mike Purpura insisted there was no quid pro
quo – as asserted by the Democrats.
He said: “Zelenksy felt no
pressure. President Zelensky says he felt no pressure. The House managers tell
you they know better.”
In a news conference after January 25 hearing, Adam Schiff, the Democrats’
lead prosecutor, raised the disputed issue of calling witnesses.
He said: “The one question they
did not address at all is why they don’t want to give the American people a
fair trial, why they want this to be the first impeachment case in history
without a single witness and without a single document being handed over.
“That ought to tell you
everything you need to know about the strength and weaknesses of this
The leader of the Democrats in the Senate, Chuck Schumer, told reporters that President Trump’s defense team had inadvertently “made a really compelling case for why the Senate should call witnesses and documents”.
The first day of the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump has begun
with battle over its format.
This is the third such trial in US
far the senators have debated the rules under which the trial should be
conducted. No witnesses have yet been authorized to testify.
efforts by Democrats to force the White House to provide documents, the vote
failed after splitting along party lines.
Senate leader Mitch McConnell, who sets the rules for the chamber, said he is
hoping the trial will last just 10 days.
He made some last-minute changes to his proposal for how the Senate will
conduct President Trump’s impeachment trial. The House managers and the
president’s defense team now have three days each, instead of two, to present
their opening arguments (although each side’s total time is still capped at 24
McConnell has also changed the rules of evidence somewhat, allowing the House
managers to introduce material gathered during their hearings unless a majority
of the Senate objects.
has said he had the Republican votes he needed to pass his rules package, but
perhaps he felt some pressure from within his own ranks to more closely align
his proposal to the way President Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial was run in
Democrats will still be calling for more. They want a guarantee of witnesses,
something that doesn’t seem likely to happen.
Charles Schumer said a trial without witnesses or evidence would be “a
is accused of seeking help from Ukraine to get himself re-elected, and of
He has called the investigation a “hoax” and a “witch-hunt”.
Donald Trump is only the third president to face an impeachment trial.
Robert Ray succeeded Ken Starr as the independent counsel.
Monica Lewinsky tweeted on January 17 shortly after President Trump’s team
was announced: “This is definitely
an ‘are you kidding me?’ kinda day.”
In 2016, Ken Starr was forced out of his position as president of Baylor
University after an inquiry found the school had mishandled rape accusations
against its football players.
He later also resigned from his roles as chancellor and law professor at the
Alan Dershowitz is a retired Harvard University law
professor and constitutional law expert whose past celebrity clients have also
included boxer Mike Tyson.
He said in a statement that he had
also opposed Bill Clinton’s impeachment, and voted for Hillary Clinton in the
Donald Trump sought Alan
Dershowitz’s advice, too, during the 2017-2019 special counsel investigation
into alleged Russian meddling in the presidential election.
Alan Dershowitz and Ken Starr both
represented disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein during his 2008 abuse trial.
On January 17, President Trump
shared Alan Dershowitz’s comments criticizing a Government Accountability
Office ruling that the White House had broken the law by withholding aid to
Former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has also been asked to join the
Pam Bondi, a longtime Trump ally, joined the White House communications team
last November to focus on “proactive impeachment messaging”.
Donald Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, a central figure in the
Ukraine investigation, had also hoped to join the defense, but he did not make
Rudy Giuliani told CBS he might be called as a witness in the impeachment
trial and “understood this may happen if I uncovered the 2016 Ukrainian
The former NYC mayor was apparently
referring to a discredited theory that Ukraine intervened in the last White
One of Rudy Giuliani’s associates,
Ukrainian-American businessman Lev Parnas, has said he went to Ukraine to
pressure local officials on behalf of Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani.
President Trump’s allies have
rubbished Lev Parnas’ claims, pointing out that he is facing unrelated campaign
Last month, Donald Trump was impeached
by the House on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
Democrats have accused the president of withholding military aid to Ukraine to pressure the country into investigating his political rival, former VP Joe Biden. President Trump denies the claims, and calls the impeachment proceedings a partisan “hoax”.
Democratic and Republican leaders in
the Senate have clashed over the rules of President Donald Trump’s impeachment
Democrats want assurances witnesses
and documents will be allowed, to enable what they term a fair trial.
Chuck Schumer says the recent
release of an “explosive” email about aid to Ukraine is a reminder of
why openness is necessary.
Republican leader Mitch McConnell
says he has not ruled out witnesses.
However, he stopped short of
agreeing ahead of time to take testimony during the trial.
President Trump was formally
impeached by the House last week for abuse of power and obstruction of
Donald Trump is the third president
in US history to be impeached. However, he is unlikely to be removed from
office, as his Republican party has a majority in the Senate, where the trial
will be held as stipulated in the US Constitution.
He is accused of pressuring
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky to start an investigation into his
political rival, Democratic presidential front runner, Joe Biden.
President Trump is accused of doing
this by withholding military aid and making a White House visit contingent on
The trial is expected to begin next
month, after the holiday break.
However, Democrats have so far
refused to hand over the articles of impeachment voted through in the House –
the charges – to the Senate.
They want assurances from Mitch
McConnell that their chosen witnesses – at least four current and former White
House aides with knowledge of the Ukraine affair – will be allowed to testify.
He suggested holding a trial similar
to former President Bill Clinton’s in 1999, in which senators decided which
witnesses to call after opening arguments and a written question period.
Mitch McConnell accused Speaker of
the House Nancy Pelosi of holding “an absurd position” for delaying
handing over the impeachment articles and said she is “apparently trying
to tell us how to run the trial”.
Democrats renewed their demand for witnesses over the weekend after an email
emerged suggesting the White House sought to freeze aid to Ukraine just 91
minutes after President Trump spoke to President Volodymyr Zelensky by phone in
July. That call is at the center of the allegations against President Trump –
charges he denies.
Chuck Schumer said he and his Republican counterpart remain at an impasse
after holding a “cordial” meeting on December 19 to discuss trial
During a news conference in New York on December 22, Chuck Schumer said
Republicans “have come up with no good reason why there shouldn’t be
witnesses, why there shouldn’t be documents”.
He added: “We don’t know what the
witnesses will say. We don’t know how the documents will read. They might
exonerate President Trump or they might further incriminate him. But the truth
should come out on something as important as an impeachment.”
Democrats argue that Republicans will not act as impartial jurors during the impeachment trial, after Mitch McConnell pledged last week to work in “total co-ordination” with the White House. Meanwhile, House of Representatives officials raised the possibility of a second impeachment if new evidence of obstruction by President Trump came to light. The suggestion came in court papers filed by Democrats as they seek the testimony of White House counsel Don McGahn.
A newly-released government email
has revealed that the White House sought to freeze aid to Ukraine just 91
minutes after President Donald Trump spoke to President Volodymyr Zelensky by
phone in July.
The email, telling the Pentagon to
“hold off”, was sent by a senior White House official.
In the phone call, President Trump
asked the Ukrainian leader to investigate his political rival, Democrat Joe
On December 18, President Trump has
been impeached for abuse of power over the issue.
Democrats say the phone call shows
Donald Trump used the office for personal political gain.
A US whistleblower who heard about
the conversation raised concerns, which ultimately triggered the impeachment
The president was formally impeached
by the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives, but is unlikely to be
removed from office as the case will go to trial in the Senate, where his
Republican party has a majority.
The newly-released email was obtained
by the Center for Public Integrity following a court order in a freedom of
The email shows that Mike Duffey, a
senior White House official, contacted senior defense officials about
withholding Ukraine’s aid just over an hour-and-a-half after President Trump
ended a call with President Zelensky on July 25.
The transcript shows President Trump
asked Volodymyr Zelensky to “do us a favor” and investigate Joe
Biden, currently a frontrunner to be the Democratic candidate in the 2020 White
House race, and his son Hunter Biden, who had previously worked for a Ukrainian
In the email Mike Duffey asks that
the Department of Defense “hold off” on providing aid following the
administration’s plan to review.
The email reads: “Given the sensitive nature of the
request, I appreciate your keeping that information closely held to those who
need to know to execute direction.”
In a statement released to media on December 22, Rachel Semmel, a spokeswoman for the Office of Management and Budget, dismissed the characterization of the email.
After 10 hours of partisan debate on
the merits of the two impeachment charges against President Trump, the House
called for votes at about 20:30 local time.
The first charge is abuse of power,
stemming from President Trump’s alleged attempt to pressure Ukraine to announce
investigations into his Democratic political rival, Joe Biden.
It passed by 230 votes to 197,
almost completely on party lines. Only two Democrats opposed – New Jersey’s
Jeff Van Drew, who is set to leave the party, and Minnesota’s Collin Peterson.
The second charge is obstruction of Congress, because President Trump allegedly
refused to co-operate with the impeachment inquiry, withholding documentary
evidence and barring his key aides from giving evidence.
It passed by 229-198. Democrat Jared Golden of Maine voted for the first
charge but opposed this.
No Republicans supported impeachment, although ex-party member Justin Amash,
from Michigan, did.
Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard voted “present” on
both charges – effectively an abstention. Two members were absent for personal
Being impeached places President Donald Trump alongside only two other presidents in the nation’s history – Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton.
House Judiciary Committee has approved two
impeachment articles against President Donald Trump, moving the process towards
a full House vote.
The articles are expected to be voted on by the Democrat-controlled House of
Representatives next week.
President Trump is the fourth US president in history to face impeachment.
Speaking to reporters at the White House, Donald Trump again dismissed the
process as a “sham” and a “hoax”.
Today’s hearing lasted just over ten minutes before the two articles of
impeachment – abuse of power and obstructing Congress – were passed by 23 votes
The vote was delayed after more than 14 hours of rancorous debate.
Republicans criticized that decision by Democratic Party Chairman Jerry Nadler,
accusing him of pushing back the vote to ensure more TV coverage.
In the abuse of power article, President Trump is accused of soliciting a
foreign country to help him politically by trying to force Ukraine to launch a
corruption investigation into his political rival Joe Biden, a leading
Democratic presidential contender.
The president is also accused of obstructing Congress by failing to
co-operate with the House investigation.
Leading Democrats agreed the articles of impeachment described over nine
pages. They say that President Trump “betrayed the nation” by acting
Jerry Nadler made a brief statement to reporters after the vote, calling it
a “solemn and sad day” and pledged that the House of Representatives
would “act expeditiously”.
However, Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz said: “For Democrats, impeachment is their drug.”
Speaking from the White House Oval Office alongside the president of
Paraguay, President Trump called the impeachment process “a witch
hunt”, “a sham” and “a hoax”.
Donald Trump said Democrats were “trivializing impeachment” adding that they are “making absolute fools out of themselves”.
House Judiciary Committee has unveiled charges
against President Donald Trump, a key move in impeaching him.
The first article revealed by committee chief Jerry Nadler accuses President
Trump of abuse of power and the second accuses him of obstructing Congress.
The Republican president is said to have withheld aid to Ukraine for
domestic political reasons.
Donald Trump has urged the Senate to try him “sooner than later”.
He insists he has done “nothing wrong” and has dismissed the
impeachment process as “madness”.
If the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives Judiciary Committee
votes to approve the articles later this week, they will then be submitted to
the lower chamber for a full vote.
If, in turn, the articles are approved by the House, an impeachment trial in
the Republican-held Senate will take place, possibly early in January.
The impeachment process was launched after an anonymous
whistleblower complained to Congress in September about a July phone call by
Donald Trump to the president of Ukraine.
President Trump is alleged to have
committed “high crimes and misdemeanors” (a phrase from the US
Constitution) on two counts outlined by Jerry Nadler:
The first allegation is that he exercised the powers of his public office to “obtain an improper personal benefit while ignoring or injuring the national interest”, by allegedly putting pressure on Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 presidential election;
The second allegation is that “when he was caught, when the House investigated and opened an impeachment inquiry, President Trump engaged in unprecedented categorical and indiscriminate defiance of the impeachment inquiry”, thereby obstructing Congress.
President Trump “sees himself
as above the law”, Jerry Nadler said.
“We must be clear, no-one, not even the president, is
above the law.”
In the July phone call to Ukraine’s
President Volodymyr Zelensky,
President Trump appeared to tie US military assistance for Ukraine to its
launching of investigations that could help him politically.
In return for those investigations, Democrats say President Trump offered
two bargaining chips – $400 million of military aid that had already been
allocated by Congress, and a White House meeting for President.
Democrats say this pressure on a vulnerable US ally constitutes an abuse of
The first investigation President Trump wanted from Ukraine was into former
VP Joe Biden, his main Democratic challenger, and his son Hunter. Hunter Biden
joined the board of a Ukrainian energy company when his father was President
Barack Obama’s deputy.
The second Trump demand was that Ukraine should try to corroborate a
conspiracy theory that Ukraine, not Russia, had interfered in the last US
presidential election. This theory has been widely debunked, and US
intelligence agencies are unanimous in saying Moscow was behind the hacking of
Democratic Party emails in 2016.
President Trump railed at the announcement of the charges, declaring again on Twitter that it was a “witch hunt”.
US Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland has
been accused by three women of sexual misconduct.
The accusations, co-published by Portland Monthly magazine and ProPublica, date back to before he became an ambassador.
At the time of the alleged incidents Gordon Sondland was developing hotels
in Portland and Seattle in the Pacific Northwest.
Gordon Sondland denies all of the allegations, and accuses the women of
targeting him for his role in President Donald Trump’s impeachment hearings.
He said in a statement: “These
untrue claims of unwanted touching and kissing are concocted and, I believe,
co-ordinated for political purposes.
“They have no basis in fact, and
I categorically deny them.”
All three women said Gordon Sondland retaliated against them professionally
after they rejected his advances – by verbally abusing them at their workplace,
reneging on a promised investment, and withdrawing offers of professional
One of the women, Nicole Vogel, said she met Gordon Sondland for dinner in
2003 in order to secure investment for her new magazine.
Nicole Vogel is the owner of Portland
Monthly. The magazine said she was not involved editorially in the story,
and it had teamed up with ProPublica,
a respected non-profit news group, to report the claims independently.
She said that after dinner Gordon Sondland took her to one of his hotels and
invited her to see a room. He then requested a hug, she added, but instead
“grabs my face and goes to kiss me”.
Nicole Vogel said she deflected him and left the hotel, and later received
an email from Gordon Sondland changing the terms of his investment.
A second acuser, Jana Solis, said she met Gordon Sondland in 2008 when she
was seeking work as a hotel safety expert.
When Sondland offered her the job, she said, he called her “my new
hotel chick” and slapped her rear. She then said that on another occasion
he invited her to his home in Portland to evaluate his art collection, before
On a third occasion, Sondland asked her to inspect his penthouse apartment
and then forcibly kissed her, she said.
The third woman, Natalie Sept, was working in local politics in Portland for
a candidate Gordon Sondland had donated money to.
After they were introduced through her boss, she claims Gordon Sondland
invited her to dinner to discuss work opportunities. She said he asked for a
hug at the end of the night, but then pushed himself towards her and tried to
forcibly kiss her.
In response, Gordon Sondland described the article as “underhanded
journalism” that was “fundamentally false”.
He said he intended to take legal action against the two publications.
Gordon Sondland provided key testimony at President Trump’s impeachment hearing last week, where he said he followed the president’s orders to pressure Ukraine to investigate his Democratic rival, Joe Biden.
Bill Taylor, the acting US
ambassador to Ukraine, told impeachment hearings that President Trump directly
asked about a Ukrainian investigation into his Democratic rival Joe Biden.
In previously unheard testimony,
Bill Taylor said a member of his staff was told President Trump was preoccupied
with pushing for a probe into Joe Biden.
The top diplomat was speaking at the
first public hearings in the impeachment inquiry.
President Trump told reporters he
did not recall making such comments.
The president is accused of
withholding US military aid to Ukraine in order to pressure the country’s new
president to publicly announce a corruption inquiry into Joe Biden, among the
favorites to take him on in the 2020 presidential race.
President Trump denies any
wrongdoing and has called the inquiry a “witch-hunt”.
During a detailed opening statement,
Bill Taylor said a member of his staff had overheard a telephone call in which
the president inquired about “the investigations” into Joe Biden.
The call was with US ambassador to
the EU Gordon Sondland, who reportedly told the president over the phone that
“the Ukrainians were ready to move forward”.
After the call, the staff member
“asked ambassador Sondland what President Trump thought about
Ukraine”, Bill Taylor said.
Bill Taylor said: “Ambassador Sondland responded that
President Trump cares more about the investigations of Biden.”
When asked about Gordon Sondland earlier this month, the
president had said: “I hardly know the gentleman.”
Responding to queries from reporters
after the hearing, President Trump said: “I
know nothing about that, first time I’ve heard it.”
He said he recalled Gordon
Sondland’s testimony, in which the diplomat said he spoke to the president
“for a brief moment” and President Trump had “said no quid pro
quo under any circumstances”.
However, Hunter Biden acknowledged the possible political ramifications of
his work, saying his failure to do so previously demonstrated “poor
“Did I make a mistake? Well,
maybe in the grand scheme of things, yeah,” he said.
“But did I make a mistake based
upon some ethical lapse? Absolutely not.”
Hunter Biden stressed his record on the board of the UN World Food Program
and work for US corporations to defend his lucrative role as a board member for
a Ukrainian gas company.
He said: “I think that I had as
much knowledge as anybody else that was on the board, if not more.”
However, he acknowledged the appointment may have resulted from his father’s
“I don’t think that there’s a lot
of things that would have happened in my life if my last name wasn’t Biden,”
Hunter Biden said.
His foreign business ventures have pulled him to the epicenter of the
ongoing impeachment inquiry into President Trump.
President Trump and his allies have claimed that as vice-president Joe Biden
encouraged the firing of Ukraine’s top prosecutor because the prosecutor was
investigating Burisma, a gas company that employed Hunter Biden.
These allegations – though widely discredited – were raised by President
Trump in a July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
This call has fuelled the Democratic-led impeachment investigation. The
inquiry is trying to establish whether President Trump withheld nearly $400 million
in aid to nudge President Zelensky into launching an inquiry into the Bidens.
President Trump tweeted: “A big scandal at @ABC News. They got caught using really gruesome FAKE footage of the Turks bombing in Syria. A real disgrace. Tomorrow they will ask softball questions to Sleepy Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, like why did Ukraine & China pay you millions when you knew nothing? Payoff?”
The president has continued to seize on Hunter Biden’s dealings in Ukraine
and China to stage political attacks against him and his father, charging both
Bidens with corruption, without offering specific evidence.
In an interview on October 15, Hunter Biden dismissed the president’s claims
as a “ridiculous conspiracy idea”.
Last week, Hunter Biden announced he would step down from the board of BHR
(Shanghai) Equity Investment Fund Management Company.
His lawyer, George Mesires, told media his client had not acquired an equity
interest in the fund until 2017, after his father had left office.
Hunter Biden said last week that he would not work for any foreign-owned companies if his father is elected president.
Former US ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch has told Congress she was ousted over “unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives”.
She said she was “incredulous” at being dismissed by President
Donald Trump in May.
Marie Yovanovitch’s testimony is part of an impeachment inquiry against President
The Democratic probe is looking into whether the Republican president
improperly pressured Ukraine to investigate his political rival Joe Biden.
The scandal was sparked by a whistleblower complaint about a July phone call
between President Trump and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky.
During that conversation, President Trump described Marie Yovanovitch as “bad news”, according to a rough transcript released by the White House.
The decision to dismiss Marie Yovanovitch several months earlier reportedly
followed President Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and other
conservatives arguing she was biased against the president.
Rudy Giuliani had been working in
Ukraine to press the authorities to investigate widely debunked corruption
allegations against Joe Biden, and his son, Hunter, who was associated with a
The lawyer is coming under
increasing scrutiny over his work for the president. Asked by reporters on
October 11 if Rudy Giuliani was still his lawyer, President Trump answered
ambiguously: “I don’t know. He’s a
very good attorney and he has been my attorney.”
In a prepared statement, Marie
I understand that I served at the pleasure of the president.
“I was nevertheless incredulous that the US government
chose to remove an ambassador based, as best as I can tell, on unfounded and
false claims by people with clearly questionable motives.”
Marie Yovanovitch said she
did not know Rudy Giuliani’s reasons for attacking her.
“Equally fictitious is the notion
that I am disloyal to President Trump,” she said.
“I have heard the allegation in
the media that I supposedly told the embassy team to ignore the president’s
orders ‘since he was going to be impeached.’ That allegation is false.”
She warned of the harm that will come to the US when “bad actors”
realize “how easy it is to use fiction and innuendo to manipulate our
Marie Yovanovitch said she had never met or spoken with Hunter Biden and
that Joe Biden had never raised with her the subject of his son or the
Ukrainian gas company that employed him.
She also said she learned that President Trump had called for her ousting
since 2018 despite Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan telling her she had
done nothing wrong.
Marie Yovanovitch said: “He said
that the president had lost confidence in me and no longer wished me to serve
as his ambassador. He added that there had been a concerted campaign against
A Barack Obama-appointee, Marie Yovanovitch was confirmed by the
Republican-controlled Senate and served as US ambassador to Ukraine from August
2016 until last May.
The whistleblower complaint noted Marie Yovanovitch’s surprise dismissal was a red flag for some officials.
New calls for President Donald Trump’s impeachment
came from House Democrats, after former White House counsel Donald McGahn failed
to appear before Congress despite a subpoena.
Donald McGahn skipped a hearing on May 21 about the Mueller report.
In an extraordinary move, President Trump has vowed to block all subpoenas
of his current and former staff.
House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerry Nadler said after the failed
hearing: “Our subpoenas are not
“Let me be clear: this committee
will hear Mr. McGahn’s testimony, even if we have to go to court to secure
it,” he said.
The Trump administration claims that the report by Special Counsel Robert
Mueller, into allegations of Russian collusion and obstruction of justice,
cleared him of wrongdoing, and that there are no further questions to answer.
It also claims that staff cannot legally be compelled to testify, but Jerry
Nadler said he would hold Donald McGahn in contempt and pursue other means of
“We will hold this president
accountable, one way or the other,” he said.
On May 2, President Trump responded on Twitter, arguing that he had
“allowed everyone to testify” to Robert Mueller’s team, and accusing
the Democrats of seeking a “do-over” of the special counsel
Democratic Party leaders have so far
held off pressure from their lawmakers to begin impeachment proceedings, and
the party is divided over the merits of the move, but the pressure is growing
as the president stonewalls congressional inquiries.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi scheduled
a party meeting on May 22 to discuss the issue.
Both the Department of Justice and
White House released statements on May 20 arguing that Donald McGahn was under
no obligation to give evidence.
According to a letter sent to House
Judiciary Committee, Donald McGahn was “absolutely immune from compelled
Congressional testimony”. Donald McGahn, who served as White House counsel
for nearly two years under President Trump before his resignation in October
2018, said he would respect the president’s instruction not to appear.
White House press secretary Sarah
Sanders accused Democrats of pushing for “a wasteful and unnecessary
do-over” of the Mueller report.
Citing the justice department
guidance, Sanders said: “The former
counsel to the president cannot be forced to give such testimony, and Mr.
McGahn has been directed to act accordingly.”
In the wake of Donald McGahn’s
failure to appear, Jerry Nadler announced he had issued subpoenas to former
White House Communications Director Hope Hicks and Annie Donaldson, McGahn’s
former chief of staff.
According to a New York Times report, Democratic lawmakers and aides were examining possible rules changes to allow the House to fine people held in contempt, as well as other means to break the impasse.
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