Democrats have cast the net of impeachment inquiry wider with a demand to Vice President Mike Pence to provide documents relating to President Donald Trump’s conversation with Ukraine’ President Volodymyr Zelensky that they are investigating and his dealings with officials in Kiev.
Escalating the confrontation with Trump, they also sent a subpoena to the White House on Friday for documents that have a bearing on the phone conversation in which Trump asked Zelensky to investigate the business dealings of former Vice President and 2020 Democratic candidate Joe Biden’s son Hunter with a gas company.
Democrats have accused Trump of misusing his office by trying to get a foreign government involved in US election politics because Biden is a contender for their Party’s ticket to run against Trump in next year. Zelensky has denied that Trump pressured him to investigate Hunter Biden.
The impeachment investigators want to find out what Pence, who was not on the call, knew about it and if he was involved in trying to influence the Ukrainians. In the highly unlikely scenario that both Trump and Pence are impeached and voted out of office by the Republican-controlled Senate, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would be in line to be the President. Trump has made a full House of Representatives vote on conducting the impeachment hearings a condition for White House cooperation, a stand backed by other Republicans.
Trump asserted that even though many Democrats don’t want to vote to impeach him, “they have no choice. They have to follow their leadership. And then we’ll get it to the Senate, and we’re going to win”. In a tweet on Thursday night, Trump said he had the authority — and even a duty — to ask for foreign help to investigate corruption. Speaker Pelosi said that she may hold a House vote to authorise the impeachment, but not because Trump asked for it. The laws do not require a House OK to hold an impeachment inquiry, but it was done in the past. A vote would force those Democrats who have been reluctant to support the impeachment to take a public stand.
Trump could challenge the demand for documents in court claiming that they were covered by executive privilege. Meanwhile, Schiff, a prime mover of the impeachment process, has been caught making an false statement, according to The Washington Post, a newspaper that is usually hypercritical of Trump, and is owned by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. (IANS)