Text messages link Ukraine investigation and President Trump meeting

Romney, on Friday, became one of the few Republicans to speak out against Trump's comments on Ukraine and also to China saying they should investigate Biden, now a leading Democrat seeking the presidential nomination.

Trump tells reporters he hasn't directly asked Chinese President Xi Jinping (shee jihn-peeng) to investigate Biden and Biden's son Hunter, but that it's "certainly something we could start thinking about".

The messages, released by House Democrats, show former United States special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker writing to top Zelensky aide Andrey Yermak, promising the new Ukrainian leader a trip to Washington in exchange for the investigation. Rudy Giuliani, Trump's personal lawyer and a central figure in the Ukraine controversy, was aware of the statement, as was a top aide to Zelensky, The Times reported.

Last month, three top USA diplomats used encrypted texts to discuss what one saw as a particularly troubling development: President Donald Trump had put a hold on hundreds of millions of military aid to Ukraine around the same time he was asking Ukraine for help investigating his political rival.

It now appears as though the "perfect" call President Donald Trump made to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky needs a fall guy, and outgoing Energy Secretary Rick Perry may just be that man.

Trump is "desperately clutching for conspiracy theories that have been debunked and dismissed by independent, credible news organizations", Biden Campaign Manager Kate Bedingfield says in response to the president's Thursday morning remarks to reporters.

"I did so exclusively because I understood that the new Ukrainian leadership wanted to convince those.who believed such a negative narrative about Ukraine, that times have changed, and that, under President Zelensky, Ukraine is worthy of U.S. support", he told the hearing.

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Former U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Kent Volker, revealed that he tried to warn Giuliani that the information from Ukraine about Biden was not reliable and not to trust it, but Giuliani and Trump went ahead with it anyway.

The US president has criticised his political rivals and compared the impeachment inquiry to a coup.

GCHQ has called allegations that it spied on Mr Trump "totally ridiculous". "You know what they call that", Trump said.

Democrats vowed to push through with the impeachment investigation, having subpoenaed documents from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Giuliani, and threatened to subpoena the White House.

Democrats, however, are going to note Sondland's political background as a Republican megadonor who contributed more than $1 million to Trump's inaugural committee before being appointed to his first diplomatic post. "The American people need to see the transcripts". Trump, who is already facing an impeachment inquiry for urging Ukraine to do the same, blamed Biden for China's "sweetheart" trade relationship with the US. But the committee managed to schedule the deposition with Volker, as well as one next week withMarie Yovanovitch, who was USA ambassador to Ukraine until she was removed from the post last spring.

"I could save you a lot of time", Trump said. "But if the president really did withhold lawfully appropriated money in order to target Biden, that violates the separation of powers and I think would be really problematic", Erickson added.

  • Delia Davidson