16 Jan 2020 |
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has accused US President Donald Trump of breaking the law by delaying military aid to Ukraine. One day after submitting articles of impeachment to the Senate, Pelosi now wants to call more witnesses.
Her calls come on foot of a new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) which claims Trump broke the law by temporarily withholding military aid to Ukraine last year. According to the report, Trump held up the aid based on “his own policy priorities,” in violation of the Impoundment Control Act.
Pelosi, who on Wednesday announced her team of prosecutors who will lead the impeachment case against Trump, seized on the report to bolster her case.
“The White House, the administration, broke – I’m saying this – broke the law,” the senior Democrat told reporters on Thursday. “This reinforces, again, the need for documents and eyewitnesses in the hearing
Trump withheld $391 million in security aid for Ukraine last summer, in what Democrats claim was an attempt to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky into reopening a corruption investigation into the family of Joe Biden, a potential challenger to Trump in the 2020 election. Trump insists that the aid was withheld on account of broader corruption worries in Ukraine, and both him and Zelensky claim that there was no pressure campaign against Kiev.
Republicans have ridiculed Pelosi and her fellow Democrats for first claiming in December that a speedy impeachment was a matter of “national security,” and then for refusing to transmit the articles to the Senate and begin the trial. Pelosi withheld the articles for four weeks in a bid to pressure Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell into accepting her terms for a trial, which included the option to call more witnesses than House Democrats had questioned during their inquiry.
McConnell resisted, and accused Pelosi of attempting to gather extra information to bolster a weak case against Trump.
“First, Democrats spent weeks saying the House case was totally convincing,” he said on Tuesday. “Now, the opposite: They say the House case is so thin that if the Senate judges what the House actually voted on, it’s a ‘cover-up.’”
The Republican-controlled Senate is widely expected to acquit Trump. None of the upper house’s 53 Republicans have voiced support for removing the president from office, and a two-thirds majority is required to oust Trump. The trial is slated to begin next week.