18:28 GMT04 December 2020
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    US President Trump on Tuesday claimed he was blocking current and former administration officials from testifying in the impeachment inquiry to protect future presidents – a day after a federal judge ruled former White House counsel Don McGahn must appear before a House panel.

    Trump argued in his latest tweets that he "would love to have" McGahn, former national security adviser John Bolton, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney testify. The White House has thus far blocked officials from complying with Democratic requests for testimony in the House impeachment inquiry.

    Pompeo was later asked by journalists about the president’s tweet and whether he would consider testifying minutes later during a State Department press briefing.

    “When the time is right, all good things happen,” Pompeo said cryptically. Earlier during the briefing, Pompeo also declined to answer a question about his contacts with Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, saying he didn't "have much to say" related to the Ukraine issue at the heart of House Democrats' impeachment inquiry, adding that his department “continues to comply with all the legal requirements.”

    US District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, an Obama appointee, ruled Monday that despite White House arguments, McGahn was not immune from compelled congressional testimony and must testify before the House Judiciary Committee, writing in the opinion that the president’s claim that top advisers are immune from compelled congressional testimony “has no basis in the law,” adding that it made no difference whether the individuals are "privy to national security matters." McGahn's attorney said he would comply with the judge's ruling unless it is stayed pending appeal.

    The Democrat-led inquiry seeks to unearth possible illegal actions by Trump with regards to diplomacy with Ukraine. Central to the probe is whether or not Trump sought a "quid pro quo" arrangement with Kiev by threatening to withhold military aid unless the Ukrainian government opened an investigation of former US Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, an investor in the Ukrainian gas sector. Originally the hearings were held behind closed doors, but two weeks ago, Democrats began a new phase of public hearings, featuring testimonies by Trump administration functionaries and diplomats from various European postings. Trump has repeatedly 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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