Donald Trump vents fury at impeachment probe with key witness due to testify
US President Donald Trump has called the congressional impeachment investigation that may seek to remove him from office “a lynching”.
An agitated President Donald Trump on Tuesday branded the Democratic impeachment process a “lynching” shortly before a crucial new witness is scheduled to give a deposition that could potentially unpeel new layers of the Ukraine scandal that is threatening his presidency.
Bill Taylor, the top US diplomat currently in Ukraine, is due at a closed-door session of three House committees and plans to fill in the gaps of his text messages with US diplomats about Ukraine, a source familiar with his testimony told CNN’s Jeremy Herb and Kylie Atwood. That’ll offer new material for an ever-broadening investigation now threatening to dash Democratic hopes of swiftly wrapping up the entire impeachment process.
Taylor will be asked about increasingly firm evidence that Trump was running an off-the-books foreign policy operation in Ukraine for personal political gain in a possible abuse of power.
He arrived in Washington amid an evolving political environment. Half of all Americans now say Trump should be impeached and removed from office, according to a new CNN/SSRS poll. That’s a new high in CNN polling on the topic and the first time that support for impeachment and removal has significantly outpaced opposition.
Trump, who on Monday called on Republicans to be tougher in his defense, warned in a tweet that Democrats were setting a precedent that a president of their own party could be impeached in future without due process.
“All Republicans must remember what they are witnessing here — a lynching. But we will WIN!” Trump wrote.
So some day, if a Democrat becomes President and the Republicans win the House, even by a tiny margin, they can impeach the President, without due process or fairness or any legal rights. All Republicans must remember what they are witnessing here – a lynching. But we will WIN!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 22, 2019
Political pitfalls for Democrats, too
“There is a debate now — should we have a narrow inquiry or a broad one?” said Corey Brettschneider, author of “The Oath and the Office: A Guide to the Constitution for Future Presidents.”
Votes could slip until the end of the year
What’s the latest with the impeachment inquiry?
The inquiry is examining whether the Republican president abused his office by improperly pressuring Ukraine to launch an investigation into former US Vice-President Joe Biden, a leading candidate for the Democratic 2020 presidential nomination.
Donald Trump denies holding up US military aid to Ukraine so they would investigate Mr Biden’s son, who worked for a Ukrainian gas company.
On Tuesday, veteran US diplomat William Taylor – the acting US ambassador to Ukraine – is scheduled to be interviewed by the impeachment committees at Congress.
Texts show Mr Taylor raised the alarm to other Trump officials about withholding US aid to Ukraine.
“I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign,” Mr Taylor wrote in one message.
During a cabinet meeting at the White House on Monday, Mr Trump called for his party “to get tougher and fight” the impeachment inquiry.
“We have some that are great fighters, but they have to get tougher and fight, because the Democrats are trying to hurt the Republican party before the election,” he said.
Initially hopeful the impeachment inquiry would be finished by November’s Thanksgiving holiday, Democrats are now signalling it may drag on towards Christmas.
Quick facts on impeachment
Impeachment is the first part – the charges – of a two-stage political process by which Congress can remove a president from office
If the House of Representatives votes to pass articles of impeachment, the Senate is forced to hold a trial
A Senate vote requires a two-thirds majority to convict – unlikely in this case, given that Mr Trump’s party controls the chamber
Only two US presidents in history – Bill Clinton and Andrew Johnson – have been impeached but neither was convicted and removed
President Nixon resigned before he could have been impeached.