White House budget official appears for deposition in impeachment inquiry

World Today

In Washington, the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump moves forward. A White House budget official has appeared for a closed-door deposition. He offered testimony on whether Trump might have abused his powers by asking Ukraine to investigate a political rival.

CGTN’s Toby Muse tells us more.

Mark Sandy is the first official from the Office of Management and Budget to ignore President Trump’s orders not to testify.

His job gave him access to budget decisions in the White House. Sandy’s testimony could reveal why it was decided to withhold military aid to Ukraine for several months and whether it was related to President Donald Trump’s demand that the country investigate former vice-president Joe Biden and his son.

The Democrats say that this could be cause to remove President Trump from office.

“There’s a lot to be concerned about, particularly that more witnesses describe the president’s obsession with investigating his political opponents,” said U.S. Congressman Eric Swalwell.

Trump says he has done nothing wrong.

Sandy’s testimony comes after House impeachment investigators heard from David Holmes, the political counselor at the U.S. embassy in Kiev.

Holmes testified that he heard a phone conversation between President Trump and the U.S. ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland.

He testified: “I then heard President Trump ask, ‘So, he’s gonna do the investigation.’ Ambassador Sondland replied that ‘he’s gonna do it.'”

He added that the Ukrainian President will do “anything you ask him to.”

Joe Biden could well be President Trump’s rival for the presidency in next year’s election. Republicans dismissed the testimony.

“You got some guy who overheard a phone call. I’m sure he’s going to be a witness next week,” said U.S. Congressman Jim Jordan. “We will have him in an open hearing and we’ll get a chance to question him there.”

This caps a week of testimony which Democrats say shows a pattern of abuse of power by Trump and even witness intimidation.

Republicans say that the inquiry is nothing more than politics and point out that the aid to Ukraine was eventually handed over even without a public pledge by Ukraine to investigate the Bidens and the 2016 elections.

Eight more witnesses are scheduled to publicly testify when the hearings resume on November 19. They start with Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, the top Ukraine expert for the National Security Council who was one of a handful of staffers on the July 25 phone call between President Trump and Ukraine’s president.