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    U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky during a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York City, New York, U.S., September 25, 2019

    Trump-Zelensky Phone Call: 'Ball Is in the Republicans' Court' - Professor

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    US President Donald Trump has been embroiled in a political scandal following a whistleblower's tip-off into the allegedly illegal dealings of his administration and himself.

    On 24 September, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, announced an impeachment inquiry into Trump’s 25 July telephone call with Ukrainian President Voldymyr Zelensky. The inquiry was initiated after a whistleblower sent a complaint to Congress, claiming Trump pressed Zelensky to investigate possible corruption by 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden. The president is accused of threatening to withhold US military aid to Ukraine in exchange for information.

    Trump denied the allegations, calling them a political witch hunt that seeks only to reverse the outcome of the 2016 US presidential election. Trump’s administration published what is said to be the full transcript of the telephone call with Zelensky.

    Daniel Franklin, associate professor of political science, shares his opinion.

    Sputnik: According to Mark Zaid, a lawyer representing both whistleblowers, his new client is an intelligence official with “first-hand knowledge” of some of the allegations in the original complaint. What information could a second informant potentially divulge?

    Daniel Franklin: My guess is that a second whistleblower will probably corroborate the statements made by the first whistleblower (let's call this person "#1").

    #1 acknowledged in his statement that the knowledge he had was given to him by numerous other sources.

    What makes #2 different is that, at least according to his lawyer, #2 was a witness to what happened.

    Sputnik: To what extent could the second whistleblower affect the course of the investigation of Trump's impeachment?

    Daniel Franklin: This is not clear. Right now it is not clear what, if any, evidence of wrongdoing will cause the President's supporters to abandon him and support impeachment.

    The "ball" so to speak is in the Republicans' court.

    It is significant to note that many prominent Republicans, particularly in the Senate, the chamber that tries impeachments, have not commented on the matter.

    The fact that they did not leap to the President's defence might be a signal that the President's support in the Party is weakening.

    Sputnik: How likely is it that there will be new leaks from the Trump administration in the near future?

    Daniel Franklin: It is very likely that there will be leaks. But I want to make it clear that there is a difference between a "leak" and the filing of a whistleblower complaint.

    What #1 and, presumably, #2 have done are strictly within the law. Leaks, or unauthorized statements to the press, while not being strictly speaking illegal, can be the basis of disciplinary action, dismissal and even under some circumstances criminal prosecution.

    So, yes there may be leaks. But to say that there will be further leaks is not accurate because what #1 did is not a leak.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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    Tags:
    Whistleblower, Republicans, impeachment, transcript, phone call, Volodymyr Zelensky, Donald Trump, United States
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