Trump impeachment inquiry: Two top aides testify to 'improper' call

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A US Army officer and key impeachment witness saw his loyalty called into question by Republicans on Tuesday, as he testified that President Donald Trump made inappropriate demands on his Ukrainian counterpart for dirt on rival Democrats.

The other involved a debunked conspiracy theory embraced by some Trump allies that Ukraine, not Russian Federation, interfered in the 2016 US election.

His testimony will take the spotlight as the impeachment probe enters its second week of public hearings with a parade of witnesses coming before the U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence Committee.

"It is improper for the president of the United States to demand a foreign government investigate a USA citizen and a political opponent", Vindman told the hearing.

"I come back and a soap opera is on", Watters said.

He testified alongside Jennifer Williams, an aide to US Vice President Mike Pence, both of whom were among the US officials who listened in on the 25 July call.

As of almost two hours after Jennifer Williams, who is Vice President Mike Pence's Russian Federation adviser; and Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, both of whom were listening in on Trump's July 25 call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, began testifying, Trump had not posted any public tweets.

Republican Representative Jim Jordan told Army Lieutenant Colonel Vindman that his White House bosses had questioned his judgment, but Army Lieutenant Colonel Vindman read from a July employee evaluation that called him "brilliant" and said he exercises "excellent judgment". He added that there was "no doubt" about what Trump was asking Zelenskiy for.

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According to the declassified deposition, Holmes told House investigators last week that during a 26 July phone conversation Trump asked Gordon Sondland, the USA ambassador to the European Union, for an update on "the investigation". Did anybody ask you to bribe anybody? No.

Lt Col Vindman was amongst the USA officials who listened in on the 25 July call between the two leaders. He told lawmakers that "character attacks" against public servants testifying in the impeachment inquiry were "reprehensible".

"Now if I were Trump, I wouldn't even talk about impeachment", she said.

"Do not worry, I will be fine for telling the truth", he said.

A USA official said Vindman and his family might be moved to a military base because of security threats.

And the Republican counsel appeared to question his loyalty by repeatedly asking how he was invited three times to become Ukraine's minister of defense - offers Vindman called "comical" and said he "immediately dismissed".

Tuesday is the third day of televised impeachment hearings.

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