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Democrats accuse Trump administration of obstructing impeachment proceedings


Democrats accuse Trump administration of obstructing impeachment proceedings 

President Donald Trump holds a White House press conference with Finnish President Sauli Niinistö (not pictured), on Oct. 2, 2019, at which he responded to questions from reporters about the impeachment inquiry against him. EFE/EPA/SHAWN THEW

(Update 1: Adds Trump's remarks and House Intel Committee response)

Washington, Oct 2 (efe-epa).- President Donald Trump on Wednesday called the opening of the impeachment investigation against him a "fraudulent crime on the American people" hours after House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi held a press conference and accused Secretary of State Mike Pompeo of trying to obstruct the impeachment investigation against Trump.

"This is a fraudulent crime on the American people," said Trump at a White House press conference with his Finnish counterpart, Sauli Niinistö.

"But we'll work together. With shifty Schiff and Pelosi and all of them, and we'll see what happens, because we did absolutely - I had a great call with the president of Ukraine. It was 100%. You have the transcript," said the US leader.

Trump also said that "This is a hoax. This is the greatest hoax," adding that Pelosi was issuing subpoenas "like they're cookies."

"She hands out subpoenas like they're cookies. You want a subpoena? Here you go. Take them. Like they're cookies," the president said.

Congressional Democrats have issued subpoenas so far for Pompeo and for Trump's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, to provide documents and testimony for the impeachment investigation.

Pelosi and Schiff had announced Wednesday in a Capitol press conference of their own that if the White House does not cooperate with the investigation, they will issue more subpoenas compelling officials to provide information, documents and testimony about the controversial July 25 telephone call Trump held with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, which is the subject of the impeachment inquiry.

According to a non-verbatim transcript of that phone call, Trump had asked the East European leader to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his family for alleged corrupt acts in that country, Biden, at this early stage in the campaign, being Trump's main Democratic rival for the presidency in 2020.

Trump accused Schiff of helping "write" the whistleblower complaint filed by a US intelligence official - supposedly a CIA agent - regarding the alleged pressure Trump exerted on Ukraine to investigate Biden.

Trump provided no proof for his claim that Schiff helped write the complaint, but he alluded to a report by Fox News that Schiff had met with the CIA agent before the latter filed the complaint.

Meanwhile, Schiff's office said Wednesday that the whistleblower had contacted the House Intelligence Committee "for guidance" on how to go about reporting the complaint, but committee and Schiff spokesman Patrick Boland said that this was a "regular occurrence" and denied that anyone in the office had seen the complaint in advance.

Earlier, Schiff had accused Secretary of State Mike Pompeo of trying to obstruct the impeachment investigation against Trump.

Schiff said at a Capitol press conference with Pelosi that if the Trump administration continues its stonewalling tactics regarding releasing documents and allowing officials to testify, that would be viewed as "further evidence of obstruction of justice ... (and an) inference that (the White House) is trying to conceal facts that corroborate" the whistleblower complaint that sparked the impeachment proceedings.

The House Intel chairman said, "We are not fooling around here, though. We don't want this to drag on for months and months and months, which appears to be the administration's strategy."

"We are deeply concerned about secretary Pompeo's effort to potentially interfere with witnesses who are set to appear before out committee," said Schiff, adding that "We are proceeding deliberately, but at the same time we feel a real sense of urgency."

"You have the president using the full power of his office to try to effectively coerce a foreign leader - to intervene in our election to help his campaign. It's hard to imagine a more corrupt course of conduct," he added.

Pompeo had announced on Tuesday that State Department officials who had been called to testify by Congress about US relations with Ukraine would not do so, this amid the brewing and expanding legislative investigation into Trump launched by Pelosi last week.

Pelosi announced last Tuesday that an impeachment investigation would be begun on the basis of the telephone call that Trump had in July with Zelensky.

When asked about whether the content of that conversation is enough to launch an impeachment investigation, Pelosi said that it was and that Trump had "undermined national security."

Trump is "undermining his oath of office" and "undermining the integrity of our elections," Pelosi added.

The speaker referred to some $400 million in US military aid for Kiev that Trump blocked until weeks after his call with Zelensky, despite the fact that Congress had already approved the funds.

However, she also noted that beginning impeachment proceedings against a president is a "sad" and "divisive" thing for the country.

While Pelosi and Schiff were speaking to reporters in the Capitol, Trump unloaded on them on Twitter, urging them not to "waste everyone's time" with impeachment.

"The Do Nothing Democrats should be focused on building up our Country, not wasting everyone's time and energy on BULLSHIT, which is what they have been doing ever since I got overwhelmingly elected in 2016, 223-306. Get a better candidate this time, you'll need it!" Trump tweeted.

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Putin on Trump: "I don't see anything compromising in the call with Zelensky"

Moscow, Oct 2 (efe-epa).- The president of Russia Vladimir Putin on Wednesday said he saw "nothing compromising" in a telephone call the US president had with the president of Ukraine that led to the opening of an inquiry into Donald Trump.

"As far as we know, I don't see anything compromising,” said Putin during a plenary session of Russia’s Energy Week.

“President Trump addressed his counterpart with a request for a probe into alleged corrupt transactions under the previous leadership,” the Russia leader said. “It is definitely the obligation of any leader.

"Everyone has the right to know if there was corruption or not. I have not seen in that phone call at all that President Trump demanded compromising material from Zelensky at all costs and threatened to limit" his country's military aid to Kiev, said Putin.

The US president asked Volodymyr Zelensky in a telephone call on 25 July to probe the former vice president and Democratic candidate for the White House, Joe Biden, and his family over alleged corruption in Ukraine.

Putin said he learned in his "previous career" in the KGB that all conversations can come to light but he made it clear that he does not approve of this because "there are things that are confidential."

Putin said the Democrats in the US "have used any pretext to attack Trump" and after the report of the former special counsel Robert Mueller "proved that there was no conspiracy between President Trump and us" to help him win the 2016 election against Hillary Clinton “they’ve found a new pretext: Ukraine.”

Mueller found no evidence of a conspiracy but did not rule out Russian interference.

Putin said Russia "has not taken a single destructive step towards the US" and Moscow is not interested in interfering in any elections.

The Russian leader said his country has "many problems of its own to solve" and these are "its main focus of attention."

"We will work with the president chosen by the Americans. If it is Mr Trump, we will continue to work with him. If not, we will work with another person," he said. EFE-EPA


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