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HomeWorldWhistleblower, Bidens, Pelosi, Bolton — here’s the cast in Trump impeachment proceedings

Whistleblower, Bidens, Pelosi, Bolton — here’s the cast in Trump impeachment proceedings

With the impeachment hearings against US President Donald Trump in motion, here's a look at the who’s who in the ever-expanding list of key players.

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New Delhi: An exceptionally long list of characters is involved in the ongoing impeachment hearings against US President Donald Trump.

The public hearings, part of the impeachment proceedings that started on 24 September, will decide the fate of the US President in the House of Representatives. The latest hearings come on the back of some closed-door hearings held by Democratic lawmakers before 13 November.

Trump is accused of pushing Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, during a phone call on 25 July, to investigate his leading domestic political rival, Democrat Joe Biden. Additional charges against the president include withholding $400 million of military aid to Ukraine as leverage to force its government to probe Biden.

Trump has called the inquiry a “sham” that “shouldn’t be allowed”.

With the hearings in motion, ThePrint looks at the who’s who in the ever-expanding list of key players in the Trump impeachment proceedings.

Whistleblower

At the heart of the impeachment inquiry against Trump is a whistleblower, reportedly an intelligence official. The official was the first one to ring the alarm on Trump-Zelensky’s phone call. On 12 August, the official wrote to the chairman of the Congressional committees on intelligence informing them about the call. The identity of this whistleblower is not known but might be revealed if the Congress decides to ask the person to testify. The lawyer representing the person has claimed that there are several more whistleblowers.


Also read: Why we must talk about the mental health of political leaders


Rudolph Giuliani

Commonly referred to as Rudy Giuliani, Rudolph is Trump’s personal lawyer and former mayor of New York. His name is all over in the White House notes on the Trump-Zelensky phone call, which were released by Trump’s office. He is accused of spearheading the campaign to convince past and present Ukrainian officials to pursue the investigation against Biden and his son, Hunter. He also met Zelensky’s close adviser Anriy Yermak in Madrid in early August.

Joe and Hunter Biden

Joe Biden, former US vice-president under the presidency of Barack Obama, is currently in the race for the Democratic party presidential nomination. If nominated, he would be contesting the presidential election against Trump next year.

Biden’s son, Hunter, joined Ukraine’s largest privately-owned gas company, Burisma Holdings in 2014, when his father was still the US vice-president. The company and its executives were later accused of corruption. Trump has accused Biden of protecting his son from the Ukrainian investigations into Burisma Holdings.

Given the charges against Trump, the father and son are at the heart of the impeachment inquiry.

Nancy Pelosi

Democratic party member Nancy Pelosi is the US House of Representatives Speaker, in which capacity she has the sole authority to start the impeachment proceedings. Initially hesitant about starting the inquiry, Pelosi gave in to her party’s demands and launched it on 24 September.

Adam Schiff

Democrat Adam Schiff is currently the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee — the panel tasked with the responsibility to lead the impeachment probe. Given that he is the lead investigator in the inquiry, he has been dubbed as the face of Democratic party’s impeachment effort.

Rick Perry

Republican lawmaker Rick Perry is Trump’s Secretary of Energy. Earlier in October, Trump said that he made the phone call to Zelensky only on Perry’s request.

Perry has said that though he had asked Trump to talk to Zelensky, his interest in Ukraine was not to do with Bidens but US’ energy goals. He has said that he will resign from his position by the end of the year.


Also read: Not only Ukraine, Trump accused of also coercing Italy, Australia & China to probe rivals


William Barr

William Barr is the US Attorney General and was mentioned in the White House notes on the Trump-Zelensky phone call. During the call, Trump had allegedly told Zelensky that Barr can “get to the bottom” of Bidens’ alleged corrupt activities in Ukraine.

Marie Yovanovitch

Marie Yovanovitch was the US ambassador to Ukraine from August 2016 to May 2019. She was the highest-ranked woman career diplomat at the State Department. While in office, Yovanovitch emerged as a major critic of Ukrainian officials’ corrupt practices. Giuliani accused her of thwarting Trump’s Ukraine policy.

Yovanovitch was abruptly removed from office in May this year. During her Congressional testimony, she said that the US Deputy Secretary of State informed her about a “concerted campaign” in the White House to remove her.

Kurt Volker

Former US Representative to Ukraine, Kurt Volker was tasked with the job of negotiating an end to the Russia-Ukraine war. He was essentially the middleman between the US and Ukrainian governments. A series of text messages featuring Volker were released by the Democrats to show that he was a part of Trump’s alleged efforts to push the Ukrainians into investigating the Bidens. Volker has testified to Congress on two occasions.

In his testimony during the public hearings, Volker said that at a meeting held on 10 July, Sondland “made a generic comment about investigations”, which him and others found “inappropriate”.

Gordon Sondland

Gordon Sondland is the US ambassador to the EU and a major part of Trump’s alleged effort to convince Ukraine’s government to investigate the Bidens. He is widely reported to have got the ambassador’s position after he made a health donation to Trump’s campaign fund.

In the text messages released by the Democrats, Sondland told Zelensky’s adviser Yermak on 11 September that the US military aid was conditioned on Ukraine publicly announcing an inquiry into the Bidens.

During his testimony at the impeachment hearings, Sondland has said that he was working at the behest of Trump’s directions and the effort was being managed by Giuliani. More damning was Sondland’s assertion that Trump was carrying out a clear-cut quid pro quo dealing with respect to Zelensky.

William Taylor

Following the removal of Yovanovitch, William Taylor was appointed the US Ambassador to Ukraine. Being in Ukraine as this episode played out, Taylor was a major critic of using military aid as leverage for an investigation into Bidens. One of the text messages shows Taylor saying, “As I said on the phone, I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.”

During his testimony to US Congress, Taylor said the military aid to Ukraine was tied to Bidens’ investigation. He is one of the key witnesses for Democrats.

George Kent

George Kent is a senior official at the State Department and oversaw US’ Ukraine policy. He was privy to Trump’s team’s efforts to get Bidens investigated and was regularly in touch with ambassador Taylor.

Lt Col Alexander Vindman

Alexander Vindman is a former US Army officer and currently serves at the National Security Council (NSC) as the director for European Affairs. At the NSC, he was assisting with defence-related matters pertaining to Russia and Ukraine.

In his testimony to US Congress, Vindman talked about Trump making a quid pro quo with the Ukrainian president.


Also read: How a US President can be impeached, and will Donald Trump lose his job


Tim Morrison

Tim Morrison was briefly at the NSC as the top adviser to Trump on matters pertaining to Ukraine. He had taken up this position after Fiona Hill quit in August this year. Morrison resigned in October and in his Congressional testimony, he also asserted Trump’s quid pro quo.

Fiona Hill

Fiona Hill, who was the top Russia adviser at the NSC before Morrison, has worked under former presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. In her testimony, Hill said the then National Security Adviser John Bolton had expressed his concerns regarding Trump officials pressurising Ukrainian government.

Laura Cooper

Laura Cooper is Department of Defense’s assistant secretary for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia. She was DoD’s top official working on Ukraine. During her testimony last month, she told lawmakers that Trump’s government did freeze the military aid to Ukraine and there was concern in Ukraine regarding this.

David Holmes and Suriya Jayanti

David Holmes is a counsellor for political affairs at the US embassy in Kyiv. Along with Suriya Jayanti, an economics officer at the US embassy in Kyiv, Holmes overheard Sondland’s call with Trump a day after the 25 July phone call. Holmes and Jayanti were at a restaurant in Kyiv at the time. In his testimony, Holmes said he heard Trump inquire about the status of the “investigations” into the Bidens.

Jennifer Williams

Jennifer Williams is special adviser to US Vice-President Mike Pence and she also heard the 25 July phone call. In her testimony, she told US Congressmen that it was not a “normal diplomatic call”.

Mike Pompeo

Mike Pompeo is the US Secretary of State and he also reportedly heard the Trump-Zelensky call. His role in the impeachment inquiry is not clear, but according to several testimonies he is accused of knowing about the controversial call and allowing Giuliani to run his shadow diplomacy in Ukraine.

Mick Mulvaney

According to reports, Mick Mulvaney, acting White House Chief of Staff, told the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) — the key budgetary office in the US — to freeze the military aid to Ukraine. According to Hill’s testimony, Sondland had a back-channel directly to Mulvaney, who is Trump’s key White House aide.

Mark Sandy

Mark Sandy is deputy associate director for national security programs at the OMB. In his testimony, he said that he received no information about why the decision to freeze military aid to Ukraine was made. He also added that in his experience, the decision was “highly unusual”.

John Bolton

John Bolton was the US National Security Adviser from April 2018 to September this year — he quit after a public falling out with Trump. Bolton told media that he was concerned about “drug deal” like diplomacy that the Trump administration was carrying out with Ukraine. He is willing to testify at the impeachment hearings, but has been ordered by the White House to not do so. He is currently awaiting court orders before he agrees to testify.

John Eisenberg

John Eisenberg is a lawyer who serves as a legal adviser at the NSC and deputy counsel to the US President for National Security Affairs. He had ordered the transcript of the Trump-Zelensky phone call to be moved to the highly classified server. It is not regular practice to move transcripts of phone calls between the US President and another head of state to a highly classified server. 

According to Vindman’s testimony, he was told by Eisenberg not to tell anyone about the phone call.


Also read: This is what it will take to impeach Donald Trump over call to Ukrainian President Zelensky


 

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