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Pressure mounts on Donald Trump as Ukraine hearings move forward

US President Donald Trump has said that he will “strongly consider” a congressional suggestion on whether he should testify in an impeachment inquiry in the US House which claims that he pushed Volodymyr Zelensky, his Ukrainian counterpart, to launch investigations into the Ukrainian dealings of his chief political rival, former US vice president Joe Biden, and his son, Hunter Biden, and withheld 400 million US dollars of military aid for Ukraine at the same time.

Mr Trump tweeted that “he likes the idea” of a testimony and that he could do it in writing. However, he continued to claim that he had done nothing wrong, calling the ongoing inquiry against his Ukrainian dealings a “great fraud.”

His announcement comes amidst a series of investigations launched by US House Democrats who claimed that the military aid for Ukraine was linked to digging up political dirt on Mr Biden, who is one of the top contenders for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

Speaking in an open deposition on November 15, former US ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch told congressional investigators that there had been a coordinated smear campaign against her that involved Rudy Giuliani, Mr Trump’s personal attorney and former Ukrainian prosecutor general Yuri Lutsenko that resulted in her recall from Kyiv in late April over claims that she was politically against the US president and the shadow political efforts run by Mr Giuliani.

“The former ambassador from the United States, the woman, was bad news, and the people she was dealing with in the Ukraine were bad news, so I just wanted to let you know that,” the US president told Mr Zelensky in their now infamous July 25 phone call, adding that [Mrs Yovanovitch] is “going to go through some things.”

Another impeachment inquiry witness, David Holmes, who is a diplomat the US Embassy in Kyiv, claimed that he had overheard a phone call between Mr Trump and US ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland after which the latter told him that the US president did not care about Ukraine, only about “big stuff” such as investigations against the Bidens.

Also last week, Bill Taylor, the top US diplomat in Ukraine, reiterated his previous claims that there was a shadow format of diplomacy involving Mr Giuliani and Mick Mulvaney, the US president’s chief of staff, that was aimed at launching politically-motivated corruption probes.

The impeachment inquiry continues with a series of open testimonies this week, including the first open testimony of Kurt Volker, former special envoy for Ukraine and Mr Sondland who previously admitted the quid pro quo.