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Politics Democrats seek to question Trump budget chief in Ukraine impeachment probe

10:25  15 october  2019
10:25  15 october  2019 Source:   abcnews.go.com

Analysis: Democrats Want to Impeach Trump. They Haven’t Decided Why.

  Analysis: Democrats Want to Impeach Trump. They Haven’t Decided Why. The articles of impeachment could be focused solely on Ukraine — or they could be a broader indictment of the president's wrongdoing.But while that decision helped quell years of frantic debate over whether and why and how Democrats might seek to remove the president, it also foreshadowed the coming battle among House Democrats about what the actual articles of impeachment should look like. Democrats seem to have made strides in their investigation in recent weeks, but they still have this major hurdle to resolve — a hurdle that could have significant implications not just for the success of the inquiry, but for Democrats’ ability to keep control of the House in 2020.

House Democrats are seeking to interview White House budget director Russell Vought on Oct. 25, according to a copy of the letter to the Office of Management and Budget​ obtained by ABC News, the latest sign that they are increasingly focused on the withholding of nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine as part of their impeachment investigation.

a person wearing a suit and tie talking on a cell phone: Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Acting Director Russell Vought walks from the White House to participate in a television interview, Oct. 9, 2019. © Chris Kleponis/Polaris Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Acting Director Russell Vought walks from the White House to participate in a television interview, Oct. 9, 2019.

Vought, the acting director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, would be among the most senior administration officials called to appear before Congress in the Ukraine probe, though multiple sources told ABC News that the White House is likely to block their appearances before the committee, as they have vowed not to cooperate with the Democrats' investigation.

Impeachment inquiry shows Trump at the center of Ukraine efforts against rivals

  Impeachment inquiry shows Trump at the center of Ukraine efforts against rivals A growing body of evidence makes clear it was Trump himself who repeatedly pushed his own government and a foreign power to intervene in domestic political concerns.Over two weeks of closed-door testimony, a clear portrait has emerged of a president personally orchestrating the effort to pressure a foreign government to dig up dirt on a potential 2020 political rival — and marshaling the full resources of the federal bureaucracy to help in that endeavor.

(MORE: Former US national security expert sits for deposition in impeachment inquiry)

The White House and OMB did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The committees investigating the matter have also sought interviews with several Pentagon officials, along with Michael Duffey, an associate director of national security programs at OMB, according to requests obtained by ABC News.

The issue of military aid is at the heart of the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry, which is focused on whether President Donald Trump withheld aid from Ukraine to pressure the country to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden’s family and a conspiracy theory related to the 2016 presidential election.

Slideshow by photo services

(MORE: Giuliani's relationship with arrested men subject of criminal investigation: Sources)

Democrats subpoenaed OMB and the Pentagon last week for documents related to the aid, along with the events surrounding Trump’s request to acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney to freeze that aid in early July, before his phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. The deadline for those requests for documents is Tuesday, according to the subpoenas.

The two leaders discussed U.S. military aid to Ukraine on the call, according to a rough transcript released by the White House. Trump also appeared to pressure Zelenskiy to work with the Justice Department and his personal lawyer to conduct investigations linked to the 2016 election and Biden, a potential 2020 rival.

At a news conference at the United Nations General Assembly last month, Trump said he decided to withhold the aid because of concerns about corruption, later adding that he wanted other European allies to pay for military aid to Ukraine as well.

(MORE: Trump claims on Ukraine call may stem from foreign official’s year-old request)

The Pentagon announced plans in June to provide Ukraine with $250 million in security cooperation funds, after the administration had told Congress it was releasing the aid February and May. The money was unfrozen on Sept. 11, after lawmakers in the House and Senate raised questions about the delay.

“We approved the money. The president signed it and we just assumed it was going out,” House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith told NPR earlier this month. “Then we started to hear from a variety of people that it was not going out.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper, in an interview with CBS News’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday, said the Pentagon would “do everything we can to comply” with the Democrats’ subpoena.

CNN Poll: 50% support impeaching Trump and removing him from office .
Half of Americans say President Donald Trump should be impeached and removed from office, according to a new CNN poll conducted by SSRS. Your browser does not support this video require(["binding"], function (binding) { binding("wcVideoPlayer", "#video_player_605bca3e-2783-4f66-b7f3-a2c42a0f0a05").all(); }); Half of Americans say President Donald Trump should be impeached and removed from office, according to a new CNN poll conducted by SSRS, a new high in CNN polling on the topic and the first time that support for impeachment and removal has significantly outpaced opposition.

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