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Swalwell says evidence in impeachment depositions amounts to ‘extortion scheme’ by Trump admin

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Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., said on Sunday that the evidence he has seen from the depositions given in the House impeachment inquiry into President Trump amounts to an “extortion scheme” by the White House.

Speaking on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Swalwell – a member of the House Intelligence Committee – said that while President Trump is owed his due process rights, he believes the evidence shows the administration using taxpayer dollars to investigate Trump’s political opponents in the 2020 election.

“It’s important that the president has due process, and evidence is not a conclusion,” Swalwell said. “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 opponents.”

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Swalwell added: “It’s important that these witnesses raise their right hands and take questions from both Republicans and Democrats… It’s important that the Republicans are afforded the opportunity to suggest which witnesses we should call and we’ll decide whether that’s relevant.”

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Swalwell also lambasted Republican calls for the former Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, to come before the House – saying that “we’re not going to go back in time and revisit conspiracy theories that were implicated in the president’s call.”

Trump has sought to implicate Biden and his son, Hunter, in his July 25 call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. Hunter Biden worked for a Ukrainian gas company at the same time his father was leading the Obama administration’s diplomatic dealings with Kiev. Though the timing raised concerns among anti-corruption advocates, there has been no evidence of wrongdoing by either the former vice president or his son.

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The first public hearings in the impeachment inquiry are scheduled to be held next Wednesday and Friday, featuring current and former officials with knowledge of the Ukraine controversy.

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The first public hearing will feature Bill Taylor, the acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, who already testified behind closed doors before congressional investigators that the president pushed Ukraine to investigate election interference, Biden and his son and their Ukrainian dealings — and that he was told U.S. military aid and a White House meeting were used as leverage to get a public announcement from Kiev that the probes were underway.

George Kent, the deputy assistant Secretary of State, also will appear with Taylor. Kent testified behind closed doors last month, and told the committees that he had concerns about Hunter Biden’s role on the board of Ukrainian natural gas firm, Burisma Holdings, in 2015, but was rebuffed by the former vice president’s staff, which said the office was preoccupied with Beau Biden’s cancer battle.