Chuck Schumer, the Senate minority leader, has called for witnesses in Donald Trump‘s administration to testify during his impeachment trial after the “explosive” publication of details about the White House’s efforts to withhold military aid from Ukraine.
“Simply put, in our fight to have key documents and witnesses in a Senate impeachment trial, these new revelations are a game changer,” Mr Schumer said at a press conference.
He was referring to the publication of emails in The New York Times showing the actions taken by officials after Mr Trump instructed his administration to withhold the funding.
“This new story shows all four witnesses we Senate Democrats have requested were intimately involved and had direct knowledge of President Trump’s decision to cut off aid in order to benefit himself,” Mr Schumer added, according to The Hill.
“And when you combine these new revelations with the explosive emails from Michael Duffey released last weekend, it makes the strongest case yet for a Senate trial to include the witnesses and documents we have requested.”
The published emails show how officials, such as acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, and Michael Duffey, an official at the Office of Management and Budget, responded to Mr Trump’s decision to withhold aid.
The Times also reported that Mr Trump declined to release the aid in spite of pleas from John Bolton, his former national security adviser, Mike Pompeo, his secretary of state, and Mark Esper, his defence secretary.
Mr Trump was impeached by the Democratic-led house on 18 December, on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
The investigation has focused on Mr Trump’s efforts to push Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, to open an investigation into his political rival, former Democratic vice president Joe Biden, and his son Hunter.
So far, Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, has told Mr Schumer he will not permit the witnesses to testify.
Mr Schumer responded by saying any trial without witnesses would be “Kafkaesque” and a “sham”.
Last week, a poll found public support for Mr Trump’s removal from office was at an all-time high of 55 per cent.
Meanwhile, the number of those against Mr Trump’s approval fell to an all-time low.
Additional reporting by agencies