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Prez Trump impeachment probe set to pick up speed

Prez Trump impeachment probe set to pick up speed

WASHINGTON DC: The impeachment inquiry of U.S. President Donald Trump shifts into higher gear this week when a parade of officials will face questioning by Democratic lawmakers seeking details that could link Trump to a pressure campaign against Ukraine potentially for his political benefit.

Eight more witnesses are due to testify in Week Two of the televised hearings. They include Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, whose direct interactions with Trump are likely to be a main focus in the investigation of whether the president made security aid to Ukraine contingent on it agreeing to dig up dirt on a political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden.

The latest round of hearings will stretch from Tuesday to Thursday before the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee.

Seeking to build on last week's testimony by three key witnesses, Democrats leading the inquiry - the first public impeachment drama in two decades - will continue trying to make the case that Trump abused the power of his office.

Denying any wrongdoing, Trump, who railed on Twitter and elsewhere against the proceedings and attacked witnesses by name last week and over the weekend, has shown no sign of a let-up in his confrontational approach.

Some Democrats have accused him of witness intimidation but most Republican lawmakers have joined him in declaring the inquiry unfair.

Several witnesses testified last week that they were alarmed over the pressure tactics used against Ukraine, as well as the role of Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.

At the heart of the inquiry is a July 25 phone call in which Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to open a corruption investigation into Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, and into a discredited theory that Ukraine, not Russia, meddled in the 2016 U.S. election.

Among this week's witnesses are several who listened in on the call.

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