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US impeachment inquiry: State Department official testifies in defiance of Trump ban

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In a further sign of the discontent within the State Department directed against Trump, Michael McKinley, a career diplomat and senior adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, resigned his position. McKinley had worked as ambassador to Afghanistan, Colombia, Peru and Brazil before taking a position as an adviser to Pompeo on issues including Afghanistan, Venezuela and Mexico.

It is evident from both the aggressiveness with which the Democrats have taken up the impeachment inquiry and the response of officials like Yovanovitch that the Democratic leadership and powerful sections of the national-security establishment are cooperating in the impeachment campaign against Trump. This campaign is aimed at either ousting Trump entirely or forcing him to shift his foreign policy in a more anti-Russian direction.

The Democratic leadership wants to avoid at all costs raising any broader political issues, such as Trump's crimes against immigrants and refugees, his violation of constitutional limits on executive power, or his encouragement of white supremacist and fascist forces. In a conference call Saturday with the House Democratic caucus, Pelosi reiterated her commitment to an impeachment inquiry focused narrowly on the Ukraine allegations, rejecting suggestions by several Democrats that the probe be expanded to other areas.

The cochair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Representative Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), endorsed this stance, claiming that the caucus must "stay focused on what is easiest to explain," although she said some additional issues could be raised. "We want to stay focused in on a simple message, and there might be one or two places where it's actually bolstering the case of Ukraine to talk about the other situations," she said.

There were further indications of crisis in both of the two ruling-class camps engaged in the frenzied factional conflict over impeachment. It was reported in the press that Attorney General William Barr met privately last Wednesday night with Rupert Murdoch, the billionaire who owns Fox News and many other media properties. Two days later, the lead news anchor at Fox, Shepard Smith, announced his resignation. He had long been under fire from Trump apologists at the network and from Trump himself for his more critical view of the president.

On the Democratic side, the continual media references to Hunter Biden's role at Burisma, where he received as much as $50,000 a month for "work" that consisted largely of being the son of the US vice president, has done considerable damage to Joe Biden's campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination. On Sunday, the younger Biden's lawyer issued a carefully crafted statement in which Hunter Biden in effect promised to stop engaging in influence peddling overseas if his father was elected president.

The statement declared, "Under a Biden Administration, Hunter will readily comply with any and all guidelines or standards a President Biden may issue to address purported conflicts of interest, or the appearance of such conflicts, including any restrictions related to overseas business interests... In any event, Hunter will agree not to serve on boards of, or work on behalf of, foreign-owned companies."

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Patrick Martin writes for the World Socialist Website (wsws.org), a forum for socialist ideas & analysis & published by the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI).
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