Friday 18 October 2019

White House won't hand over documents for Ukraine inquiry

Blocked: Gordon Sondland will not be testifying about Ukraine controversy. Photo: REUTERS/Francois Lenoir
Blocked: Gordon Sondland will not be testifying about Ukraine controversy. Photo: REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

Ben Riley-Smith

The White House has announced that it will not co-operate with the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump being run by Democratic congressmen, claiming the inquisition is "unconstitutional".

The Trump administration will refuse to hand over documents relevant to the investigation into the Ukrainian scandal or allow officials to be interviewed.

The decision was communicated in a letter from Pat Cipollone - counsel to the US president - to Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic House Speaker, and the chairmen of three committees leading the inquiry.

It came just hours after the White House blocked Gordon Sondland, the US ambassador to the European Union and a Trump supporter who helped shape Ukraine policy, from testifying before Congress.

In his letter, Mr Cipollone argued that the inquiry was "constitutionally invalid" and accused the Democrats of violating "fundamental fairness".

The White House is arguing that the Democrats' failure to hold a vote in the House of Representatives on an impeachment inquiry violates precedent.

They also demanded that Mr Trump be allowed to cross- examine witnesses and call his own.

Ms Pelosi responded by issuing her own statement calling the letter "manifestly wrong" and "another unlawful attempt to hide the facts".

She added: "The White House should be warned that continued efforts to hide the truth of the president's abuse of power will be regarded as further evidence of obstruction."

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden said for the first time that President Donald Trump must be impeached for abusing the powers of his office to help his reelection.

Mr Biden made the remarks in a blistering speech in New Hampshire, departing from his usual campaign pitch and signalling that he will aggressively confront Mr Trump on the campaign trail.

The president is "shooting holes in the Constitution," Biden said.

Meanwhile, Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren has overtaken Mr Biden in the race for the Democratic 2020 nomination, according to a poll of polls by Real Clear Politics.

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