Trump slams Romney, Democrats as impeachment inquiry escalates

Media playback is unsupported on your device                  Media caption Trump calls for China and Ukraine to investigate the Bidens

Media playback is unsupported on your device Media caption Trump calls for China and Ukraine to investigate the Bidens

According to USA Today, the White House is expected to send a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), which could be sent out on Friday, demanding a full House vote authorizing the impeachment inquiry, before cooperating with the investigation.

White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham said on Friday that the subpoena "changes nothing" and that it would be ultimately shown that Trump did nothing wrong.

The subpoenas are the latest escalation in the battle between the Trump administration and the Democratic-led House, since a whistleblower report of a conversation between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy triggered the impeachment inquiry last week.

The letter says there are "questions about any role you may have played in conveying or reinforcing the president's stark message to the Ukrainian president".

"There has been some suggestion somehow that it would be inappropriate for the United States government to engage in that activity and I see it just precisely the opposite", he said.

Trump's comments at the White House came shortly before Democrats sent a separate extensive request for documents to Vice President Mike Pence about his contacts with Ukraine.

Trump plans to inform House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) by way of an official letter next week that the administration will refuse any subpoenas until the House holds an official vote to open the inquiry-an unnecessary formality as the majority Democrats are nearly universally united behind impeachment.

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The U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee issued a subpoena on September 27 for Pompeo, a close Trump ally, seeking to compel him to hand over documents concerning contact with the Ukrainian government.

Most Republicans are standing squarely behind Mr Trump, though two Republican senators have spoken out against the president.

The inspector general, Michael Atkinson, testified before a closed-door session of the House Intelligence Committee on Friday.

He also addressed a notion Trump has long held that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 USA presidential election, a theory that runs counter to the US intelligence community's findings that it was Russian Federation that meddled in the campaign.

Democrats have warned that the Trump administration's obstruction of the investigation is itself a potentially impeachable office.

Senators would have to vote to convict Mr Trump by a two-thirds majority to remove him from office. Republicans who control the Senate have shown little appetite for ousting Trump.

Meanwhile, the impeachment inquiry against Trump over his attempt to get Ukraine and China to dig up dirt on his top political rival is underway.

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The release followed a 10-hour interview with one of the diplomats, Kurt Volker, who stepped down as special envoy to Ukraine after the impeachment inquiry had begun.

The White House has planned to send a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., arguing that Congress can not undertake an impeachment investigation without first having a vote to authorize it.

Trump pushed back hard, saying there was no quid pro quo and, in an effort to recast the entire saga, insisted it was his responsibility to investigate "corruption". Trump has called the impeachment investigation a "hoax" and accused the media and Democrats of corruption.

"By all appearances, the President's brazen and unprecedented appeal to China and to Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden is wrong and appalling", tweeted Romney, the Republican presidential nominee in 2012.

Trump said on Friday he would not tie a much-anticipated trade deal with China to his desire for Beijing to investigate Joe Biden.

Biden leads in most opinion polls among the 19 Democrats seeking the party's nomination. His campaign has blasted Mr Trump's efforts as desperate.

In a signal of how Kiev will handle investigations being watched in Washington, Ukrainian prosecutors said they would review 15 old probes related to Burisma's founder but added that they were unaware of any evidence of wrongdoing by Biden's son.

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A White House letter arguing Pelosi must hold a House vote will probably be sent to Capitol Hill next week, an administration official said.

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