2nd Official Is Weighing Whether to Blow the Whistle on Trump’s Ukraine Dealings – The New York Times

Democrats looking to keep up the momentum of their impeachment inquiry are seeing more results than they have in their examination of the findings of the investigation by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, into Russia’s election interference and Mr. Trump’s efforts to impede investigators. Though Mr. Mueller laid out stark examples of Mr. Trump trying to interfere with the inquiry, the White House has fought Democrats’ pursuit of eyewitness testimony.

House Democrats have moved more quickly in scrutinizing Mr. Trump’s use of power to solicit potential foreign help in his 2020 re-election campaign.

Late Thursday, they released explosive texts exchanged by State Department officials and Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani about pressuring the Ukrainians to commit to conducting the investigations that could help Mr. Trump politically.

In one exchange, the Americans sought to have Mr. Zelensky issue a statement promising to investigate a Ukrainian natural gas company where Hunter Biden, the younger son of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., sat on the board.

But the top American diplomat in Ukraine, William B. Taylor Jr., raised concerns about the White House’s decision to freeze $391 million in military assistance to Ukraine, tying it directly to the campaign to pressure the Ukrainians to develop dirt on the president’s political opponents.

“As I said on the phone, I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign,” Mr. Taylor wrote on Sept. 9 to Kurt D. Volker, the State Department’s former special envoy for Ukraine, and Gordon D. Sondland, the United States ambassador to the European Union.

The texts show a dispute among the men about whether the president was trying to use the security aid or a White House meeting with Mr. Zelensky as leverage — a charge at the heart of the impeachment inquiry.

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