No proof of Trump wrongdoing in impeachment process: WH

US President Donald Trump. (AFP photo)

The White House on Friday said "zero evidence" of any wrongdoing by President Donald Trump was presented at the impeachment hearing by a Congressional panel, asserting that the former US envoy to Ukraine deposed she was unaware of any criminal activity involving the president.

“The second public hearing of Speaker Pelosi and Congressman Schiff’s impeachment charade was as useless and inconsequential as the first. Zero evidence of any wrongdoing by the President was presented,” White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said after the conclusion of the second public hearing on impeachment against Trump.

Former US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch testified before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence as part of the House-initiated impeachment hearing against Trump.

Referring to her testimony, Grisham said Yovanovitch deposed under oath that she was unaware of any criminal activity involving President Trump.

“She was not on the July 25 phone call and had no knowledge about the pause on aid to Ukraine. It is difficult to imagine a greater waste of time than today’s hearing, and yet unfortunately, we expect more of the same partisan political theater next week from House Democrats,” Grisham said.

On Friday, Yovanovitch was the third witness to appear before the House Committee headed by Congressman Adam Schiff in the Democrat’s impeachment against Trump.

The public hearing of the probe kicked off on Wednesday as William Taylor, the acting ambassador to Ukraine and George Kent, the deputy assistant secretary of State for European and Eurasian affairs, testified for more than five hours before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

Yovanovitch told lawmakers that she advocated the US position that the rule of law should prevail, and Ukrainian law enforcement prosecutors and judges should stop wielding their power selectively as a political weapon against their adversaries and start dealing with all consistently and according to law.

“Untrue are unsourced allegations that I told unidentified embassy employees or Ukrainian officials that President's Trump's orders should be ignored because he was going to be impeached or for any other reason. I did not and I would not say such a thing. Such statements would be inconsistent with my training as a foreign service officer and my role as an ambassador,” she said.

The previous Obama administration, she said, did not ask her to help the Clinton campaign or harm the Trump campaign, she said.

“Nor had I taken any such steps if they had. Partisanship of this type is not compatible with the role of a career foreign service officer,” she said.

The former diplomat said she never met Hunter Biden, the son of former Vice President Joe Biden, nor she had any direct or indirect conversations with him.

“And although I have met former Vice President Biden several times over the course of our many years in government service, neither he nor the previous administration ever raised the issue of either Burisma or Hunter Biden with me,” she said.

Responding to questions, Yovanovitch said fighting corruption in Ukraine was a key element of US policy.

“It was important, and it was actually stated in our policy and in our strategy. It was important because corruption was undermining the integrity of the governance system in Ukraine. And as I noted in my statement, countries that have leaders that are honest and trustworthy make better partners for us,” she said.

“Countries where there is a level playing field for our US business makes it easier for our companies to do business there, to trade and to profit in those countries. And what had been happening since the Soviet Union -- and this is very much a Soviet legacy -- is that corrupt interests were undermining not only the governance, but also the economy of Ukraine. We see enormous potential in Ukraine and would like to have a more capable, more trustworthy partner there,” the former US diplomat said, during her testimony that lasted for more than five and half hours.

Following the testimony, Congressman Schiff said this is a story about “an effort to coerce, condition, or bribe a foreign country into doing the dirty work of the president, investigations of his political rival, by conditioning US taxpayer money, by conditioning a meeting that President Zelensky desperately wanted and needed to establish that relationship with the most powerful patron of Ukraine, the United States of America.

“The fact that they failed in this solicitation of bribery doesn't make it any less bribery. It doesn't make it any less immoral or corrupt. It just means it was unsuccessful,” he said.

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