Et tu, Mitt? Trump blasts Republican senator as impeachment battle heats up

Nancy Pelosi

US President Donald Trump has signalled his administration will not co-operate with an impeachment inquiry into his conduct after Democrats subpoenaed the White House about contacts with Ukraine.

In a letter, the Democratic chairmen of three House committees cite reports that a Pence aide may have listened to the 25 July phone call in which Trump pushed Ukraine's new president - who was waiting for hundreds of millions of dollars of United States military aid that had been withheld - to investigate unfounded charges that Biden was involved in corrupt activities there.

A cache of diplomatic texts Democrats received as part of their impeachment inquiry showed USA officials pressured the Ukrainian government to launch investigations that might benefit Trump's personal political agenda in exchange for a meeting of the two countries' leaders. "After almost a month of stonewalling, it appears clear that the President has chosen the path of defiance, obstruction, and cover-up", the chairmen said in the statement.

The U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee issued a subpoena on September 27 for Pompeo, a close Trump ally, seeking to compel him to hand over documents concerning contact with the Ukrainian government.

In their letter to the White House, the committees accused Mr Trump of "stonewalling" multiple requests for records relating to his July 25 call with Mr Zelensky.

The subpoena followed a demand earlier for documents from US Vice President Mike Pence.

Shortly after details surfaced about Trump's July call with Ukraine, in which he is said to have urged its president to probe the Bidens, Romney called for additional facts and claimed Trump's reported comments sounded "troubling in the extreme". Trump has called his phone call to Ukraine "perfect", and said that he has an "absolute right" to ask foreign leaders to investigate corruption cases.

"As President I have an obligation to end CORRUPTION, even if that means requesting the help of a foreign country or countries".

After Trump suggested on the White House lawn Thursday that China investigate former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter, Romney denounced the president, one of the few Republicans to do so.

"That's harassment and I will never let that happen to my people", he said. "Trump withheld $391 million in security aid for no reason".

There is no evidence of wrongdoing by either the former vice president or his son.

Trump fired back on Saturday morning, also on Twitter.

On Friday, Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson spent roughly seven hours behind closed doors with the House Intelligence Committee, walking lawmakers through his efforts to corroborate the whistleblower complaint he deemed credible and or urgent concern, and was initially blocked from turning over to Congress by the acting director of national intelligence.

Although there are no visible cracks in Trump's Senate firewall so far, Romney's willingness to step out of formation and criticise Trump over his calls for foreign investigations of a political opponent could act as a catalyst for others.

As Democrats raised their attacks on Trump, many Republicans remained quietly supportive of the president.

Pompeo, on the last leg of a trip to southern Europe, said there were "clearly politics" involved in the investigation.

"By all appearances, the President's brazen and unprecedented appeal to China and to Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden is wrong and appalling", tweeted Romney, the Republican presidential nominee in 2012.

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