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US House to intensify Trump’s impeachment inquiry

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
The Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff opens the hearing to hear testimony from acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire at the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on September 26, 2019. (AFP photo)

The US House of Representatives in Congress plans to intensify this week the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump over his request that a foreign power investigate a domestic political rival with testimony due from witnesses concerning allegations made by a whistleblower within the US intelligence community.

The Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, said on Sunday he expects the whistleblower, who has not been publicly identified, to appear before the panel very soon. Schiff said any effort by Trump to stonewall the probe could be used to impeach him for obstructing Congress.

The whistleblower’s complaint cited a July 25 telephone call in which Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate Joe Biden, one of the leading Democratic candidates seeking to challenge him in 2020, and his son Hunter, who sat on the board of a Ukrainian gas company.

Democrats have accused Trump of pressuring a vulnerable US ally to get dirt on a political rival for personal political gain. Trump’s phone call came after he temporarily froze nearly $400 million in aid intended to help Ukraine deal with unrest by pro-Russia separatists in the eastern part of the country.

The United States has been giving military aid to Ukraine since Russia’s reunification with Crimea in 2014.

The House Intelligence Committee is leading the impeachment inquiry. Members of the committee will carry out an investigation this week that is likely to produce new subpoenas for documents and other material.

The committee is scheduled to hold a closed-door hearing on Friday with the intelligence community’s inspector general, Michael Atkinson, who concluded that the whistleblower complaint was of urgent concern and appeared credible.

Despite the intensifying inquiry, Trump has remained defiant.

In several Twitter messages on Sunday, Trump said he wanted to “meet” the whistleblower, who he called “my accuser,” as well as “the person who illegally gave this information” to the whistleblower.

“Was this person SPYING on the US President? Big Consequences!” Trump wrote.

The inquiry by the House, which Democrats hold majority, could lead to approval of articles of impeachment against the Republican president and a subsequent trial in the Republican-led Senate on whether to remove Trump from office.

Some Democrats in the lower chamber of Congress said articles of impeachment against Trump could move to the House floor as soon as next month.

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