A senior U.S. diplomat told lawmakers on Saturday he did not know whether President Donald Trump had withheld aid for Ukraine to force an investigation of a political rival, two sources said, even as Democrats said he corroborated evidence gathered in their impeachment probe, Reuters informs.
Philip Reeker, the acting assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, spent about eight hours with the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs, Intelligence and Oversight committees behind closed doors at the U.S. Capitol.
Reeker told lawmakers that in the June-August period he had no knowledge of the possibility that U.S. security aid to Ukraine may have withheld to pressure Kiev to launch investigations that could have helped Trump’s 2020 re-election bid, as some have alleged, according to the sources familiar with the matter.
Reeker knew the aid had been withheld, but not why, said the sources, who requested anonymity. Reeker testified he heard resistance to releasing the aid was coming from acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, one of the sources said.
At the end of Saturday’s session, Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff told reporters lawmakers were making “rapid progress” in the impeachment inquiry. He declined to say when the panels might advance to the next phase of hearings open to the public, Reuters adds.
The Democratic-led committees are conducting an inquiry focusing on Trump’s request to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy that he investigate former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, a leading Democratic presidential candidate, and his son Hunter Biden, who had served on the board of a Ukrainian gas company.