Pelosi again ramped up her belief that President Richard Nixon's resignation in 1974 after the Watergate scandal involving a break-in at Democratic Party headquarters and the subsequent cover-up, was less of a misdemeanour than Trump's alleged actions.

By Pelosi invites Trump to impeachment inquiry

Posted on November 18, 2019

Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi invited President Donald Trump to testify in front of investigators in the House impeachment inquiry ahead of a week that will see more witnesses appear publicly.

Amid accusations from Trump that the process has been stacked against him, Pelosi said Trump is welcome to appear or answer questions in writing, if he chooses, AP News reported.

“If the president has information that demonstrates his innocence in all of this, which we haven’t seen, if he has information that is exculpatory – that means ex, taking away, culpable, blame – then we look forward to seeing it,” Pelosi said on CBS’ Face the Nation.

Trump “could come right before the committee and talk, speak all the truth that he wants if he wants,” Pelosi said.

Pelosi again ramped up her belief that President Richard Nixon’s resignation in 1974 after the Watergate scandal involving a break-in at Democratic Party headquarters and the subsequent cover-up, was less of a misdemeanour than Trump’s alleged actions. She accused Trump of bribery last week in having his aides allegedly dangle a White House meeting, then US$400 million in suspended US security assistance, if Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky announced an investigation into a Democratic 2020 political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Bribery is one of three articles of impeachment in the US Constitution.

“I mean, what the president did was so much worse than even what Richard Nixon did, that at some point Richard Nixon cared about the country enough to recognise that this could not continue,” Pelosi said.

Nixon resigned in 1974 after the House Judiciary Committee approved articles of impeachment against him but before the full House of Representatives voted on the issue. He was not impeached and is the only US President to resign in office.

Trump and Pelosi
Political enemies Donald Trump and Nancy Pelosi in far happier times.

The House Intelligence Committee will convene for a second week of public hearings as part of its inquiry, including Gordon Sondland, Trump’s ambassador to the European Union. Sandland is among the only people interviewed to date who had direct conversations with Trump about the situation because the White House has blocked others from cooperating with what they dismiss as a sham investigation. Testimony suggests he was intimately involved in discussions that are at the heart of the investigation into whether Trump held up US military aid to Ukraine to try to pressure the county’s president to announce an investigation into the Bidens.

Multiple witnesses overheard a phone call in which Trump and Sondland reportedly discussed efforts to push for the investigations. In a private testimony to impeachment investigators made public on Saturday, Tim Morrison, a former National Security Council aide and longtime Republican defence hawk, said Sondland told him he was discussing Ukraine matters directly with Trump.

Morrison said Sondland and Trump had spoken approximately five times between 15 July and 11 September in 2015 — the weeks that US$391 million in US assistance was withheld from Ukraine before it was released.

Morrison recounted that Sondland told a top Ukrainian official in a meeting that the vital US military assistance might be freed up if the country’s top prosecutor “would go to the mic and announce that he was opening the Burisma investigation”. Burisma is the gas company that hired Hunter Biden.

Morrison’s testimony contradicted much of what Sondland told congressional investigators during his own closed-door deposition, which the ambassador later amended.

Trump has said he has no recollection of the overheard call and has suggested he barely knew Sondland, a wealthy donor to his 2016 campaign.

Republican Jim Hime said on Fox News Sunday that “it was not lost on Ambassador Sondland what happened to the president’s close associate Roger Stone for lying to Congress, to Michael Cohen for lying to Congress. My guess is that Ambassador Sondland is going to do his level best to tell the truth, because otherwise he may have a very unpleasant legal future in front of him”.

On Tuesday, the impeachment inquiry will hear from Morrison and Jennifer Williams, an aide to Vice President Mike Pence, Alexander Vindman, the director for European affairs at the National Security Council, and Kurt Volker, the former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine.

On Wednesday the impeachment inquiry will hear from Sondland in addition to Laura Cooper, a deputy assistant secretary of defense, and David Hale, a State Department official. And on Thursday, Fiona Hill, a former top NSC staffer for Europe and Russia, will appear.

Trump has been under fire for his treatment of one of the witnesses, the former ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, whom Trump criticised by tweet as she was testifying last week.

That attack prompted accusations of witness intimidation from Democrats and even some criticism from Republicans, who have been largely united in their defence of Trump.