Schiff: WH building 'powerful' impeachment case

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House Democrats unveiled plans on Wednesday to open up the impeachment inquiry against Donald Trump, allowing public hearings that the U.S. president can join as they build a case for removing him from office.

The draft is scheduled to be reviewed by the House Rules Committee Wednesday and voted on Thursday.

The statement was issued by Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot L. Engel and acting Oversight Committee Chairwoman Rep. Carolyn Maloney.

Some Democrats have repeatedly said a vote on the floor is unnecessary to begin the impeachment process, although GOP lawmakers and the White House have both insisted this method be used in conjunction with closed-door depositions and other testimonies. Pelosi, meanwhile, suggested that this week's votes are necessary to secure the Trump administration's cooperation. He is also the first current White House official to appear before the impeachment panels.

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Newsweek has contacted the White House asking what it plans to do in the event of the impeachment inquiry being formalized, but had not heard back at the time of publication. Those requests, and the temporary hold on aid to Ukraine, are at the center of House Democrats' impeachment probe.

William Taylor, the current top diplomat in Ukraine, testified last week that he was told aid to the country would be withheld until it conducted investigations into Trump's potential 2020 Democratic rival Joe Biden and his family, and into Ukraine's involvement in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

One question that Schiff barred a witness from answering reportedly came from Ohio Republican Congressman Jim Jordan who attempted to asked the initial anonymous "whistleblower" who they spoke with following the infamous July phone call between Trump and Ukrainian president. Trump's White House released a transcript of the call shortly after Pelosi made her announcement; the full complaint was released the next day.

The president and his Republican supporters on Capitol Hill have long denied the accusations and sought to discredit the inquiry, with Trump calling the impeachment process a "scam" as he addressed the International Association of Chiefs of Police in Chicago on Monday.

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National Security Council Ukraine expert Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman said in prepared testimony he had personally witnessed a senior United States diplomat pressure Ukraine to open investigations created to help Trump politically.

"The transcript of the president's call with President Zelenskiy shows there was no quid quo pro".

In prepared testimony, Vindman says he first reported his concerns after a July 10 meeting in which a USA ambassador, Gordon Sondland, stressed the importance of having Ukraine investigate the 2016 election as well as a company linked to the family of 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.

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