IMPEACHMENT PROBE
Says top US diplomat

Afp, Washington
A senior US diplomat saw President Donald Trumpís pressure for Ukraine to investigate his Democratic rival as a threat to the rule of law in both countries, testimony released Thursday showed.

As Congress moved towards launching public hearings on impeaching Trump next week, it also upped the pressure on his key aides to appear behind closed doors.

Acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney had already been summoned to appear yesterday, but investigators raised the stakes, issuing a subpoena, US media reported late Thursday. It was not clear if he would comply.

The testimony released earlier in the day from Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent added to the evidence that Trump may have abused his office and violated election laws by seeking Ukraineís help for his re-election campaign.

Kent indicated both concern and resistance in the State Department to Trumpís efforts to gain election support from Kiev, and also fingered Trumpís personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani as central to those efforts.

He told House investigators on October 15 that he believed White House pressure on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to open investigations against US Democrats would undermine US policy toward Ukraine.

Kentís concerns in mid-August, after he learned of a linkage between US military aid to Ukraine and Zelensky doing what Trump wanted, were strong enough to file an official State Department memo.