U.S. President Donald Trump said Friday he is not worried about the Democratic-led House impeachment inquiry into a whistleblower allegation that he and other senior government officials pressured Ukraine to investigate political rivals to benefit his reelection campaign.
“I am not concerned about anything,” Trump told reporters outside the White House. “The testimony has been fine.”
Trump’s comments came just hours after House Democrats released new transcripts from two national security officials who testified last month behind closed doors about the president, offering new details beyond what had previously been disclosed.
Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a Ukraine expert on the National Security Council who listened to Trump’s phone call with Ukranian President Volodomyr Zelenskiy that is the focus of the inquiry, said “there was no doubt” that Trump wanted Ukraine to launch investigations into political rivals, according to a transcript of his deposition.
House investigators also released a transcript of the deposition of National Security Council official Fiona Hill, who also voiced concerns about the Republican president’s efforts to prod Ukraine to investigate Democrats.
Hill described then-National Security Adviser John Bolton as being angry over the administration’s political manuevers and his efforts to distance himself from them.
On Thursday, House investigators released the transcript of a top State Department official who testified that Trump wanted Zelenskiy to stand at a microphone and say three words: investigations, Biden and Clinton.
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent said the words Trump wanted to hear from Zelenskiy were relayed to Kent by others in the administration who dealt directly with Trump
“That was the message — Zelenskiy needed to go to a microphone and basically there needed to be three words in the message, and that was the shorthand,” Kent was quoted as saying.
Democrats want to know if Trump withheld $400 million in military aid to Ukraine unless Zelenskiy publicly committed himself to investigating 2020 Democratic presidential rival Joe Biden for corruption. Trump also has repeated an unfounded claim that Ukraine meddled in the 2016 presidential election on behalf of Democrats and their candidate, Hillary Clinton.
Kent said he was concerned about “an effort to initiate politically motivated prosecutions that were injurious to the rule of law, both in Ukraine and the U.S.”
“His assertions and allegations against former Ambassador Yovanovitch were without basis, untrue. Period,” Kent testified. “Mr. Giuliani … had been carrying on a campaign for several months full of lies and incorrect information.”
Kent said he was also a target of Giuliani’s attacks and was told to “keep his head down” when it came to Ukraine.
“Giuliani was not consulting with the State Department about what he was doing in the first half of 2019. And to the best of my knowledge, he’s never suggested that he was promoting U.S. policy.”
Democrats and others in the administration have accused Giuliani of a “shadow foreign policy” behind the backs of the State Department by pressuring the Ukrainian government to investigate Biden, his son, Hunter, and Democrats.
No evidence of corruption against the Bidens has surfaced. Accusations that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election are based on unfounded conspiracy theories.
Kent, Yovanovitch and current U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine William Taylor are scheduled to testify in public next week, a move Trump now says he opposes.
“They shouldn’t be having public hearings,” Trump declared before reporters Friday after repeatedly complaining the Democratic-led impeachment inquiry lacked transparency. He also mentioned that on October 15, when he tweeted, “Democrats are allowing no transparency at the Witch Hunt hearings.”
Also on Friday, acting White House Mick Mulvaney failed to appear before House investigators for a scheduled closed-door deposition.
Democrats subpoenaed Mulvaney on Thursday as the White House signaled he would not appear. Mulvaney is the latest in a number of administration officials the White House has instructed not to comply with the investigation.
On Thursday, the impeachment inquiry heard testimony from Jennifer Williams, a special adviser to Vice President Mike Pence.
Williams reportedly testified that the July 25 phone call between Trump and Zelenskiy, in which Trump urged him to investigate the Bidens, was unusual because she said the gist was political, not diplomatic.
She reportedly said she never heard Pence mention anything about investigating the Bidens or Democrats.
Trump has described his telephone call with Zelenskiy as “perfect,” and is accusing Democrats of conducting a witch hunt, calling the entire impeachment inquiry a hoax.
He fiercely denies any quid pro quo with Ukraine.
While some of Trump’s Republican supporters are finding it hard to defend his actions, they say they do not believe his request for an investigation into the Bidens is an impeachable offense that could lead to his removal from office.