Top Democrat says bombshell report about withheld military aid to Ukraine is a 'game changer' ahead of Senate impeachment trial
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer expressed alarm and demanded that four key witnesses testify in the Senate impeachment trial in a Monday statement. "This new story shows all four witnesses we Senate Democrats have requested — Mick Mulvaney, John Bolton, Michael Duffey, and Robert Blair — were intimately involved and had direct knowledge of President Trump's decision to cut off aid in order to benefit himself." Thus far the White House has blocked officials from participating in the impeachment inquiry. Schumer continued: "President Trump, if you are so confident you did nothing wrong: why won't you let your men testify?" Democrats, who are in the minority in the Senate, where the impeachment trial will be held, are trying to pressure Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell into calling witnesses as part of the trial procedure. McConnell has thus far signaled reluctance to call witnesses and said in a Fox News interview that he was working in coordination with White House lawyers in regards to the trial. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called a bombshell New York Times report "game changer"; the report revealed new details about the Trump administration's hold on Congressionally mandated military aid to Ukraine. "This new story shows all four witnesses we Senate Democrats have requested — Mick Mulvaney, John Bolton, Michael Duffey, and Robert Blair — were intimately involved and had direct knowledge of President Trump's decision to cut off aid in order to benefit himself," Schumer said on Monday in New York. On Sunday, The Times published a report quoting previously unseen emails that detail how members of the White House (including acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and White House aide Robert Blair) and others were involved in the delay of nearly $400 million in military aid for Ukraine — approved by Congress — for 84 days. The Times reported that in a June 27 email, Mulvaney wrote to Blair asking, "Did we ever find out about the money for Ukraine and whether we can hold it back?" Blair responded that it was possible to "[e]xpect Congress to become unhinged" and warned that the request could further the allegations that President Donald Trump was pro-Russia. The Times also reported on a previously undisclosed Oval Office meeting in August, where Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Secretary of Defense Mike Esper, and now-former national security adviser John Bolton pleaded with President Donald Trump to release the aid, arguing it was in the interest of the United States' national security. Trump said that he did not believe President Volodymyr Zelensky's vows to crack down on corruption, according to The Times. "Ukraine is a corrupt country," Trump said, The Times reported. "We are pissing away our money." Schumer in his statement argued that these new details, in tandem with 146-pages of documents released to the Center for Public Integrity through the Freedom of Information Act and a court order, warrant testimony before the Senate. "Simply put: in our fight to have key documents and witnesses in a Senate impeachment trial, these new revelations are a game changer," Schumer said. "This new reporting shows that there were serious concerns raised by Trumpadministration officials about the propriety and legality of what the President was doing." Thus far the White House has blocked Mulvaney, Bolton, Office of Management and Budget official Mike Duffy, Esper, Blair, and more from participating in the impeachment inquiry. "Should there be a Senate trial in which Mick's testimony is requested, we will analyze the request in consultation with the White House," Mulvaney's lawyer Robert N. Driscoll told The Times in a statement. "Whether the White House determines that valid constitutional concerns prevent his appearance or not, I am confident that neither Mick nor the president did anything remotely unlawful, much less anything warranting the House's partisan impeachment effort." Schumer continued: "President Trump, if you are so confident you did nothing wrong: why won't you let your men testify?" Democrats, who are in the minority in the Senate, where the impeachment trial will be held, are trying to pressure Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell into calling witnesses as part of the trial procedure. McConnell has thus far signaled a reluctance to call witnesses and said in a Fox News interview that he was working in coordination with White House lawyers in regards to the trial. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has yet to transmit two articles of impeachment against Trump passed in the House — one allegation of obstruction of Congress, and one allegation of abuse of power — to the Senate. She has said that she will not until she believes the Senate trial will be impartial. The Senate's role in impeachment is to act as jurors and vote whether or not to acquit Trump or remove him from office. The impeachment inquiry began after a member of the intelligence community filed a whistleblower complaint alleging that Trump abused his power for political gain. It was specifically related to a July 25 phone call between Trump and Zelensky where Trump asked Zelensky to "do us a favor" and discussed former Vice President Joe Biden and his son and a debunked conspiracy theory about the 2016 election. Trump has maintained that the call was "perfect" and that there was no wrongdoing. The Ukraine aid was released on September 11, after the White House learned of the whistleblower complaint and was under increased pressure from members of Congress (including key Republicans) to release the aid.
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