Trump blasts Dems after House panel plans impeachment vote while he's overseas

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

The president and his Republican allies in Congress say the inquiry has been unfair, because it did not allow the White House to have legal counsel present or call witnesses during weeks of closed-door testimony and open hearings before the House Intelligence Committee.

Lawmakers on the committee spent the weekend sparring over the makeup of that panel of constitutional experts, with the committee's top Republican, Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), requesting that it include an equal number of witnesses favorable to the Democratic and Republican perspective. During the (President Bill) Clinton impeachment you knew that he had lied to a grand jury.

Trump has denied any wrongdoing, calling the impeachment inquiry a "witch hunt".

But Collins continued to defend Trump. "When we look at this process, we do not see a president who conditioned anything". "If he has not done anything wrong, we're certainly anxious to hear his explanation of that". During the second week of public hearings, EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland and vice presidential aide Jennifer Williams rebuked some of Trump's key defenses of his dealings with Ukraine.

Representative Andy Biggs, Republican of Arizona, predicted fireworks in the next phase of the inquiry. During a Sunday interview, the California Democrat said impeachment is not a "foregone conclusion". "It should be much more feisty than the Intel committee was".

In a letter, Nadler also asked Republicans on his committee which witnesses they plan to ask permission to subpoena, giving a deadline of 5pm next Friday.

Members of the intelligence panel will review the report in a classified setting on Monday evening, and the full committee will consider and vote on it on Tuesday before forwarding it to the Judiciary Committee, according to an Intelligence Committee official and a person familiar with the matter.

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The so-called Ukraine Case answers the Democrat-led impeachment inquiry into whether President Trump pressured Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden, one of his political rivals.

Trump has labeled the proceeding by House Democrats a sham, in part because he could not have his lawyers cross-examine intelligence committee witnesses during hearings and depositions. If approved by the Democratic-controlled House, the charges will then go to the Republican-controlled Senate for the ultimate decision on whether Trump should be removed from office.

"What would I offer in terms of testimony?" he said when asked about it on CNN's "State Of The Union" last week. "We need to sort through the severity - the risk to the constitution, the risk to our national security that our president's actions pose".

The impeachment probe is looking into whether Trump abused his power to pressure Ukraine to launch investigations of political rival Joe Biden and a discredited conspiracy theory promoted by Trump that Ukraine, not Russian Federation, interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Mr. Collins said Mr. Trump's actions can be explained.

But other Democrats, including several on the Judiciary Committee, have pushed back, arguing that they should expand their investigation to include the obstruction of justice allegations detailed in special counsel Robert Mueller's report and other alleged misdeeds committed by the president.

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