Washington: US President Donald Trump has said that the impeachment proceedings against him in the Democratic-led House of Representatives are a "sham and should not be allowed."
The public hearing of the probe kicked off on Wednesday as William Taylor, the acting ambassador to Ukraine and George Kent, the deputy assistant secretary of State for European and Eurasian affairs, testified for more than five hours before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
Trump is facing allegations of using his office to pressure Ukraine officials for personal political gain against Democratic presidential aspirant Joe Biden and his son Hunter, who served on the board of a Ukrainian gas company.
“This is a sham and shouldn't be allowed. It was a situation that was caused by people that shouldn't have allowed it to happen,” Trump told reporters at the White House during a joint press conference with the visiting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Trump, who was in meetings with Erdogan for most of the day at the White House said that he did not watch the public hearing on his impeachment.
“Are you talking about the witch hunt? Is that what you mean? Is that what you're talking about? I hear it's a joke,” he said when a reporter asked about his general reaction to the impeachment hearing.
“I haven't watched. I haven't watched for one minute because I've been with the (Turkish) President, which is much more important, as far as I'm concerned,” Trump said, adding that he would want to find out who is the whistleblower.
It is the whistleblower, he said, who gave a lot of very incorrect information, including that of his call with the President of Ukraine in July, which he asserted was a perfect call and highly appropriate.
“He wrote something that was much different than the fact. I want to find out why the IG -- why would he have presented that, when, in fact, all he had to do was check the call itself and he would have seen it,” he said.
Trump said that he would be releasing transcripts of another call with the Ukrainian President on Thursday.
“I'm going to be releasing -- I think, on Thursday -- a second call, which actually was the first of the two. And you'll make a determination as to what you think there. But I've heard -- just a report -- they said it's all third-hand information. Nothing direct at all. It can't be direct because I never said it,” he said.
“And all they have to do is look very, very simply at the transcript. If you read the transcript -- this was analyzed by great lawyers. This was analyzed by Gregg Jarrett. It was analyzed by Mark Levin. It was analyzed by everybody. They said this statement that I made -- the whole call that I made with the President of Ukraine was a perfect one,” he said.
“I hear that it's a hoax, and it's being played as a hoax. That's what I hear, but you'll have to tell me,” Trump said.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the witnesses said there was little merit to the investigations the president sought.
Kent, asked for the basis for allegations by Trump and his lawyer Rudy Giuliani against Biden and his son Hunter, saying he had “none whatsoever.”
He also said the former vice president's anti-corruption efforts in Ukraine while he was in office were important, though he acknowledged that the reputation of a Ukrainian company whose board Hunter Biden served on was mixed.
He also said there was “no factual basis” for allegations of Ukrainian election interference, the daily reported.
Taylor reiterated that he saw a link between the aid to Ukraine and investigations Trump wanted the country to pursue.
“In a new disclosure, Taylor said that since testifying behind closed doors, he had heard from a member of his staff who was present for a July 26 call between Gordon Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union, and the president,” the daily said.
The White House later alleged that the Democrats in Congress have been selling their far-left base on impeachment since Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 presidential race.
After nearly 3 years of coming up empty — including USD32 million of taxpayer money spent on the Russia collusion hoax — Democrat leaders knew they needed to do something to appease their party's left fringe.
“House Democrats are effectively shutting down Congress — yet again — over their impeachment sham. Nothing substantive can get done while the left remains fixated on undoing the 2016 election. They have repeatedly ignored opportunities to work with President Trump and take action on issues that will help the very people they represent,” The White House alleged.
According to The Hill, the Democrats entered Wednesday hoping to manage the tone, and they largely succeeded.
“But there were no real fireworks or bombshells during the 5 1/2 hours of testimony. Taylor and Kent are obscure figures, unknown in most households. And the issue involves Ukraine, a country that most Americans couldn't find on a map,” it said.
“All of that explains why Wednesday's hearing isn't likely to move sceptical Republicans or public opinion in favour of impeachment,” The Hill reported.