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Senate's Top Democrat Pushes For Fresh Witnesses At Trump Impeachment Trial

U.S. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer

A top Democrat has said a newly released e-mail on the withholding of U.S. aid to Ukraine underscores the need for new witnesses at President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial.

The Democratic-led House of Representatives on December 18 approved two impeachment charges against Trump, setting the stage for a trial in the Senate.

Trump is accused of the withholding of U.S. military aid to Ukraine to pressure Kyiv to investigate a political rival.

Democrats want witnesses to appear at the Senate impeachment trial, but Republicans are resisting.

The Senate’s top Democrat, Chuck Schumer, said December 22 that a fresh e-mail about military assistance to Kyiv underscored the need for witnesses.

The e-mail -- obtained by the Center for Public Integrity through a court order in a Freedom of Information Act case -- showed senior White House budget official Michael Duffey directing the Pentagon to withhold the aid just 91 minutes after Trump concluded a July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

The aid and the Trump-Zelinskiy call are at the heart of the impeachment case put together by Democrats, and Duffey is one of the four witnesses Schumer has proposed calling.

In testimony to Congress last month, however, U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland said he was first informed on July 18 that the White House was withholding security aid to Ukraine. "I was never able to obtain a clear answer regarding the specific reason for the hold," he added.

Trump is very unlikely to be convicted and removed from office by the Senate because it is controlled by his Republican Party.

Based on reporting by Reuters, The New York Times, and AFP