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Senate Impeachment Trial Opens as Accountability Office Says Trump Broke Law by Withholding Aid

HeadlineJan 17, 2020

For just the third time in history, the Senate has opened an impeachment trial to determine if a sitting president should be removed from office. On Thursday, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts swore in senators who will serve as jurors when the trial officially begins on Tuesday. Roberts called on the lawmakers to render “impartial justice,” although Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already said he is not an impartial juror. He’s facing increasing pressure to call witnesses during the trial, as new information continues to emerge about President Trump’s effort to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political rival, Joe Biden, ahead of this year’s presidential election.

On Thursday, the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office said the White House’s Office of Management and Budget broke the law by withholding the nearly $400 million in aid to Ukraine, which had already been allocated by Congress.

Also on Thursday, FBI agents visited the home and business of Connecticut congressional candidate Robert Hyde, who has been thrust into the center of the impeachment story after newly revealed text messages showed Hyde communicating with former Giuliani associate Lev Parnas about surveilling then-U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch. In one message, Hyde wrote, “They are willing to help if we/you would like a price. … Guess you can do anything in the Ukraine with money.” Hyde denies he was offering to harm or assassinate the ambassador, who was later told by State Department officials that she had to leave the country immediately. Ukrainian officials have opened a criminal investigation into the potential surveillance — before the U.S. has announced a similar investigation. We’ll have more on the impeachment trial after headlines.

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