More impeachment details expected after top Trump ally’s reversal

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WASHINGTON: More details in Congress’ impeachment enquiry into Donald Trump are expected to be released on Wednesday, a day after transcripts revealed a top Trump donor-turned-diplomat reversed course and told investigators Ukrainian aid was tied to probes of political rivals sought by the U.S. president.

On Tuesday, publicly released transcripts showed U.S. ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland had returned to give lawmakers new details after his memory was “refreshed,” corroborating other witnesses who said Trump sought to pressure the Ukrainians into launching investigations that appeared aimed at boosting his 2020 re-election campaign.

Democrats in the House of Representatives leading the inquiry are expected to release more transcripts on Wednesday but have not yet said which accounts they will issue as the fast-moving probe marches toward televised public hearings.

Additional witnesses have also been called to testify, but most are likely to heed the White House and refuse to cooperate in the probe, which centres around Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy asking him to investigate former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter.

Joe Biden is a leading contender for the Democratic nomination to run against Trump, a Republican, in the election next year. Hunter Biden was on the board of Ukrainian energy company Burisma, which had been investigated for corruption. Both have denied any impropriety.

Trump has blasted the inquiry as a witch hunt and accused Democrats of unfairly targeting him in hope of reversing his surprise victory in the 2016 presidential election.

Democrats have defended the inquiry, citing concerns that the president misused his public office for personal gain.

“It’s a clear abuse of presidential power. It cannot be okay in our country for a United States president – any president – to go to a foreign leader and ask for help in his election. It’s wrong,” Representative Sean Patrick Maloney, a Democrat on the House intelligence panel, told MSNBC on Wednesday.