China / World

US diplomat says Trump tied Ukraine aid to investigations

By Ai Heping in New York (China Daily) Updated: 2019-10-24 07:34

The top US diplomat in Ukraine testified on Tuesday that US President Donald Trump made the release of security aid to Ukraine contingent on Kiev publicly declaring it would carry out politically motivated investigations, according to a copy of his statement to lawmakers.

William Taylor, a career diplomat and former army officer who serves as the charge d'affaires in the US embassy in Ukraine, gave closed-door testimony to the three Democratic-led House of Representatives committees leading an impeachment inquiry against Trump.

It ran counter to Trump's contention that there was no quid pro quo related to the $391 million in security assistance approved by Congress.

Taylor testified that he was told by Gordon Sondland, the US envoy to the European Union, that Trump had linked release of the aid to public declarations by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky about investigating Trump's domestic political rival Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden, as well as a conspiracy theory about the 2016 election.

Zelensky agreed to the request. The aid was later released.

Earlier on Tuesday morning, Trump again attacked the inquiry, calling it a "lynching".

He tweeted: "So some day, if a Democrat becomes President and the Republicans win the House, even by a tiny margin, they can impeach the President, without due process or fairness or any legal rights. All Republicans must remember what they are witnessing here - a lynching. But we will WIN!"

The use of the word "lynching" sparked a torrent of criticism from Democratic lawmakers and some Republicans.

According to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, there have been at least 4,743 lynchings in the United States. Of those killed, 3,446, or nearly 73 percent, were black.

Representative Bobby Rush, a Democrat from Illinois, implored Trump to delete the tweet: "Do you know how many people who look like me have been lynched, since the inception of this country, by people who look like you. Delete this tweet."

House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, a Democrat from South Carolina, said: "That is a word that we ought to be very, very careful about using."

Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate leader, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a Republican from California, shied away from the use of the word.

White House Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley said the president was not comparing his experience with "one of our darkest moments" in US history. "What he's explaining, clearly, is the way he has been treated by the media since he announced he would run for president," Gidley said.

Some Republicans came to Trump's defense, including Tim Scott of South Carolina, the only black Republican US senator, who said he "wouldn't use" the term but largely supported Trump's frustrations over the inquiry.

Senator Lindsey Graham, of South Carolina, said the impeachment inquiry is a "lynching in every sense".

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