06:21 GMT16 January 2021
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    The Trump impeachment inquiry, led by the House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, was launched in part on the basis of a whistleblower's claim that Trump tried to push Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky into probing the US president's political rival Joe Biden by withholding nearly $400 million in US military aid.

    Republican US Congressman Lee Zeldin, cited by Fox News, suggested that Schiff treats Americans like "idiots" in the Trump impeachment inquiry, similar to how House Democrats acted during efforts to prove allegations of Trump-Russia collusion.

    "The people who are pushing for impeachment have been pushing for impeachment since Donald Trump was elected - since he was getting sworn into office [...] Adam Schiff really does think that many Americans are idiots [...] If you remember March 22nd, 2017, he goes on another network, and he says that he has more than circumstantial evidence that President Trump colluded with the Russians. This is evidence that he hasn't yet produced, [that] I haven't seen, [former Special Counsel Robert] Mueller couldn't find [...] He made up what he called a parody version of the [July 25] call transcript, but he only said that after he got called out", Zeldin stressed, cited by Fox News.

    Zeldin also accused Schiff of failing to respond to allegations that his congressional team met in private with the whistleblower whose complaint kicked off the impeachment inquiry.

    "It turns out that [Schiff's] team was in contact with the whistleblower before this person had even filed the whistleblower complaint or had even hired an attorney [...] He's made claims during his opening statements and his closing statements - trying to write the world's greatest parody [...] Trying to connect dots that aren't actually connected [...] The facts are on the president's side", Zeldin opined.

    House Democrats accuse Trump of pressing Ukraine's President Zelensky to investigate the Bidens by withholding nearly $400 million in US military aid - a charge Republicans deny, pointing to the remittance of payments several weeks prior to Trump's notorious 25 July phone call with his counterpart in Kiev.

    Trump declassified what the White House has claimed is the full, unedited transcript of his telephone call with Zelensky. The president denied wrongdoing in his dealings with Ukraine. Trump has inexplicably described the impeachment inquiry as a political "witch hunt" by Democrats aimed at reversing the outcome of the 2016 US presidential election.


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    Democrats, GOP, Ukraine, impeachment, House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, Lee Zeldin
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