U.S. Rep. Val Demings, an Orlando Democrat, speaks to key witness testifying at Trump impeachment inquiry hearings. Photo by Issac Morgan.
Update: U.S. Rep. Val Demings was back before the U.S. Senate on Friday, assisting her fellow House impeachment managers present Article 2 of the case against President Trump – obstruction of Congress.
“The second article of impeachment charges the president with misusing the powers of his high office to obstruct the House impeachment inquiry,” Demings said during her opening argument.
The Orlando Democrat stressed Trump’s absolute refusal to share evidence with the House inquiry, or allow key aides to do so.
“President Trump’s obstruction to the impeachment inquiry was categorical, indiscriminate, and historically unprecedented. And his purpose was clear: To impede Congress’ ability to carry out its duties.”
Demings reminded the Senate that the president abused his authority by withholding military aid from Ukraine, adding he “orchestrated a massive cover-up and his obstruction remains ongoing.”
On Thursday, Florida Democrat Val Demings’ contribution to the U.S. House’s impeachment argument against President Trump on Day 4 of the proceedings included praise for former U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch as an “anti-corruption crusader.”
By contrast, Demings cast Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney and political fixer, as a schemer seeking political dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden, a leading candidate for the Democratic nomination against Trump.
Giuliani was “scheming with the corrupt Ukrainian prosecutors who were offering dirt on Biden that would help Trump get reelected,” Demings said.
“They were pressing President Trump to remove Ambassador Yovanovitch, including publicly tarnishing her reputation through false and baseless claims,” because she posed an obstacle to their plans.
The Trump administration recalled Yovanovitch last year, and the president sent demeaning tweets about her while she testified during the House impeachment inquiry.
“She was an anti-corruption crusader,” Demings told the Senate Thursday. “And a highly respected diplomat, and she had been recently asked to extend her stay in Ukraine.”
Demings also noted: “Ambassador Yovanovitch was never provided justification for her removal.”
Demings and other House impeachment managers have argued that Trump pressured Ukraine for an investigation into former vice president Joe Biden and his son, Hunter – and into a conspiracy theory that it was Ukraine, not Russia, that sought to interfere with the election that brought Trump into office.
She described the circumstances surrounding Yovanovitch’s removal as “unusual and raised questions of motive,” Demings said.
She concluded with a message to critics claiming House Democrats’ motive for Trump’s impeachment is to win the upcoming election: “You know better, because this trial is much bigger than one election, and it’s much bigger than a president. This moment is about the American people.”
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