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Biden makes most direct demand for impeachment

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Live updates: Trump says he would cooperate if Democrats ‘give us our rights’; Biden makes most direct demand for impeachment

Former vice president Joe Biden made his most direct call for President Trump’s impeachment Wednesday hours after Trump said the Democratic-led inquiry should be terminated “for the good of the Country,” claiming it was tainted with political bias.

“President Trump has indicted himself by obstructing justice, refusing to comply with a congressional inquiry … he’s already convicted himself,” Biden, who is running for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, said during a fiery address in New Hampshire.

Trump, meanwhile, continued to take aim at Biden and House Democrats, suggesting that he would refuse to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry unless Democrats “give us our rights.”

The developments came a day after the White House said in a scathing eight-page letter that it would not cooperate with the inquiry into the Ukraine scandal on the grounds that it lacked merit.

The letter was the latest escalation in a standoff with Congress, where Democrats are vowing to hold Trump accountable for pressing Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Biden and his son at a time when U.S. military aid to Ukraine had been suspended.

In a rare back and forth with reporters in Iowa, Pence refused to answer repeated questions about whether he was aware of Trump’s desire for Ukraine to investigate the Bidens.

Pence mostly regurgitated White House talking points, according to a pool report. He said he never discussed Biden on his call with President Zelensky and said he’d be open to releasing that transcript.

“What I can tell you is, all of our discussions internally, between the president and our team, and our contacts and my office with Ukraine, were entirely focused on the broader issues of the lack of European support and corruption,” Pence said.

Asked if it was ok with him that the president said he wants a foreign country to investigate his political opponent, Pence said, “I don’t believe that’s the case.”

“He said it,” a reporter pressed.

“And again, I know that’s the way Chairman Schiff characterized it in his manufactured version of the transcript, but the American people should read the transcript and they will see that the president did nothing wrong, there was no pressure, there was no quid pro quo. The president simply raised issues of importance and interest to the American people,” Pence said and then ended the gaggle.

Andrew Bakaj and Mark Zaid, the lawyers representing the whistleblower whose complaint is at the center of the impeachment inquiry, issued a statement Wednesday evening disputing claims that their client is politically biased.

The whistleblower “has never worked for or advised a political candidate, campaign, or party” and “has spent their entire government career in apolitical, civil servant positions in the Executive Branch,” they wrote.

They added that “in these positions our client has come into contact with presidential candidates from both parties in their roles as elected officials — not as candidates.”

Bakaj and Zaid also said the whistleblower “voluntarily provided relevant career information” to the inspector general of the intelligence community “in order to facilitate an assessment of the credibility of the complaint.” The inspector general, they noted, concluded that the complaint “was both urgent and credible.”

“Finally, the whistleblower is not the story,” they said. “To date, virtually every substantive allegation has been confirmed by other sources. For that reason the identity of the whistleblower is irrelevant.”

In an exchange with reporters after an event at the White House on Wednesday afternoon, Trump repeated an unsubstantiated claim he made last month about Biden, arguing that if a Republican behaved in a manner similar to the former vice president, that person would “be getting the electric chair.”

source Washington Post

 

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