Eric Swalwell Accuses Donald Trump Of An ‘Extortion Scheme’ Involving Ukraine

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Eric Swalwell, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, made his view of the president’s actions at the center of the impeachment inquiry clear, accusing President Donald Trump of involvement in an “extortion scheme.”

Swalwell made the comments to CBS News anchor Margaret Brennan on an appearance on Sunday’s Face The Nation. Swalwell, a California Democrat, said that while there was evidence to move forward with the inquiry, he believed it was important to not draw any finite conclusions yet, and ensured Brennan that the president was going to get due process in the impeachment process.

“It’s important that the president has due process,” Swalwell said. “And evidence is not a conclusion. We have enough evidence from the depositions that we’ve done to warrant bringing this forward. Evidence of an extortion scheme, using taxpayer dollars to ask a foreign government to investigate the president’s opponent. But it’s important that the people raise their right hands and face questions from both Democrats and Republicans. The president is going to get that.”

As Axios noted, the impeachment inquiry – launched in September by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi – will enter a new phase this week as the House begins holding public hearings for the first time since it began the probe more than a month ago. Republicans have criticized Democrats for holding the sessions thus far behind closed doors, though Democrats in charge released transcripts from some of the closed-door sessions last week.

This week, top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine Bill Taylor, State Department official George Kent, and former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch are scheduled to testify before Congress in open sessions, marking a significant step in the impeachment process.

Per Axios, witnesses who have already testified before Congress have indicated they believed there was a quid pro quo arrangement between the president and Ukraine, which allegedly involved Trump pressuring the Ukrainian president to announce investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden, his son Hunter, and into an untested theory into the 2016 presidential election.

The president and members of his party have criticized the Democrat-led impeachment effort since it began. The president has called it a “Witch Hunt” and insisted that he did nothing wrong on the call with the Ukrainian leader, which took place in July of this year. Yesterday, Republicans wrote a letter to the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam Schiff, and requested testimony from several sources. These included Hunter Biden and the still-anonymous whistleblower, who in August filed a complaint when they learned about the call that has since sparked the inquiry.

House Democrats have said the whistleblower will not testify in order to protect their identity.