Trump’s demand for Biden probe was improper, says top White House Ukraine expert Nov 20, 2019 0 1324 12345 DPAWashingtonThe second week of public impeachment hearings in the US House of Representatives kicked off on Tuesday with two witnesses describing their concern over a July 25 phone call that is central to the probe.The two witnesses, Alexander Vindman, the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council (NSC), and Jennifer Williams, an aide on Vice President Mike Pence’s staff, listened in on a July 25 call between President Donald Trump and President Volodymyr Zelensky.According to a transcript of the call released by the White House, Trump asked Zelensky to “do us a favour” by investigating Democratic political opponent Joe Biden and alleged interference by Ukraine in the 2016 election - the latter a theory widely dismissed by US intelligence community.Vindman and Williams testified that Trump’s comments during the call raised their concerns.“I found the July 25th phone call unusual because, in contrast to other presidential calls I had observed, it involved discussion of what appeared to be a domestic political matter,” Williams said.She said comments struck her as “political in nature,” and she updated Pence’s briefing book with a summary transcribing the call.Vindman, an active-duty military officer who appeared in his US army dress uniform, said he found it improper for the president to demand an investigation by a foreign power into a domestic political opponent. This could undermine US national security and its policies toward Ukraine, he said.He said he immediately reported his concern about the call to “the top people in the chain of command.” Democrats launched the impeachment inquiry in September, after a whistleblower reported the call as an apparent attempt by the White House to make military aid to Ukraine conditional on an investigation into his political rival Joe Biden and his son. They have accused Trump of abusing his power by withholding the military aid while pressuring Ukraine to investigate Biden in order to help his own 2020 re-election campaign.Republicans accused the Bidens of corruption over Hunter Biden’s work for a Ukrainian energy company. Trump and fellow Republicans in Congress have said the inquiry is a waste of time and is detracting from the job of tackling the country’s problems.Trump has called the inquiry a “great fraud” but on Monday said he is considering providing written testimony. RELATED ARTICLES Hong Kong university protesters defy surrender warnings Nov 20, 2019 0 731 24 Mali soldiers, 17 militants die in clashes Nov 20, 2019 0 1003 US vows more support for Philippines amid tensions in South China Sea Nov 20, 2019 0 997 Sri Lanka’s new president Rajapaksa to visit India for talks with PM Modi Colombo: India’s foreign minister arrived in Sri Lanka on Tuesday and announced that new President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had accepted Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s invitation to visit New Delhi next week. Subrahmanyam .. 6 dead as avalanche buries Indian patrol on disputed glacier Srinagar: An avalanche on Monday hit an Indian patrol in the world’s highest militarised zone in the Himalayas, killing four soldiers and two porters, an army spokesman said. The disaster was the latest on the Siachen .. Pakistan’s ailing ex-PM Sharif flown by air ambulance to London Lahore: Pakistan’s ailing ex-prime minister Nawaz Sharif left by air ambulance on Tuesday for London, where he is due to receive medical treatment after battling the government for permission to travel, his doctor and .. Swedish prosecutor drops Julian Assange rape investigation Stockholm: Swedish prosecutors said on Tuesday they have dropped their investigation into jailed WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange over a 2010 rape allegation, even though they found the plaintiff’s claim .. Spain court convicts 19 former ruling party officials in graft case Seville: A court in Spain on Tuesday convicted 19 former top officials from the ruling Socialists in Andalusia of graft for their role in one of the biggest corruption cases in the country’s modern history. The 19 were .. Johnson, Corbyn spar online ahead of first TV election duel London: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn sparred online on Tuesday ahead of their first televised head-to-head debate before a general election on December 12. Johnson .. President Zelensky says Ukraine getting ‘tired’ of Trump scandal Kiev: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Tuesday that his country is “tired” of questions related to the Trump scandal, amid a critical week of public impeachment hearings in Washington. “We have our .. White House welcomes release of two Western hostages in Afghanistan AFP Washington The White Hous e on Tuesday welcomed the release of an American and an Australian hostage in Afghanistan, saying both men had been “successfully recovered” and were receiving US medical care. “We pray for ..