President Donald Trump attacked the Democratic lawmaker Adam Schiff spearheading the impeachment inquiry on Monday as congressional committees subpoenaed his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, for documents related to his dealings with Ukraine.

US President Donald Trump looks on during a ceremonial swearing-in at the White House in Washington, US, September 30, 2019.
US President Donald Trump looks on during a ceremonial swearing-in at the White House in Washington, US, September 30, 2019. (Reuters)

As Trump lashed out at Democratic congressman Adam Schiff, suggesting he should be arrested for "treason," a new poll showed a growing number of Americans support removing the president from office for abuse of power.

Trump also attacked the whistleblower whose complaint about his phone call with the leader of Ukraine led to the opening of the impeachment probe in the Democratic-led House of Representatives last week.

"We are trying to find out about a whistleblower, when you have a whistleblower that reports things that were incorrect," the president told reporters in the Oval Office.

The whistleblower, reportedly a CIA officer, raised concerns in a report to his or her superiors about the July 25 phone call during which Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate his potential 2020 White House opponent Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, who served on the board of a Ukrainian gas company.

The Wall Street Journal has reported on Monday that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo took part in a July phone conversation between President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy that is at the heart of a House of Representatives impeachment inquiry.

Giuliani was at the center of the effort to get Ukraine to conduct an investigation of the Bidens, who have not been officially accused of any wrongdoing.

Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, and the chairmen of two other Democratic-led committees issued a subpoena to Giuliani asking him to turn over Ukraine-related documents by October 15.

"The Committees are investigating the extent to which President Trump jeopardized national security by pressing Ukraine to interfere with our 2020 election," the chairmen said in a letter to Giuliani.

"Our inquiry includes an investigation of credible allegations that you acted as an agent of the President in a scheme to advance his personal political interests by abusing the power of the Office of the President."

Trump insisted to reporters on Monday that the phone call with Zelensky was "perfect" and claimed that the "whistleblower reported a totally different statement."

"When the whistleblower reported this, he made it sound terrible," he said.

In fact, the rough transcript of the Trump-Zelensky call released by the White House matched the account in the whistleblower complaint.

'Civil war'

Trump lashed out at Schiff for his depiction of the call during a congressional hearing last week.

Schiff opened the hearing with a parody imitation of Trump speaking like a mob boss to pressure Zelensky to investigate the Bidens.

"It bore NO relationship to what I said on the call," Trump said of Schiff's remarks. "Arrest for Treason?"

Trump also raised eyebrows by retweeting comments made by a Baptist pastor, Robert Jeffress, to Fox News in which he warned of the dangers of "civil war" if the president was impeached.

"If the Democrats are successful in removing the President from office (which they will never be), it will cause a Civil War like fracture in this Nation from which our Country will never heal," Trump paraphrased Jeffress as saying.

That tweet by the president drew condemnation from at least one Republican lawmaker, Representative Adam Kinzinger of Illinois.

A new poll meanwhile found that a growing number of Americans support impeachment of the 73-year-old real estate tycoon.

American voters were split 47-47 on impeaching and removing Trump, according to the Quinnipiac University survey, a significant shift from less than a week ago when 37 percent said he should be removed and 57 percent said he should not.

The Quinnipiac poll of 1,115 registered voters was conducted September 27-29 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.6 percentage points.

If Trump is impeached by a simple majority vote in the 435-member House, he would face a trial in the Republican-led Senate, where a two-thirds majority would be needed to convict him and remove him from office.

'Risk your careers'

Few Republican lawmakers have been critical of Trump since the Ukraine scandal emerged last week, but former Republican senator Jeff Flake of Arizona urged them on Monday to speak up.

"My fellow Republicans, it is time to risk your careers in favour of your principles," Flake said in a column in The Washington Post. "Whether you believe the president deserves impeachment, you know he does not deserve reelection.

"For those who want to put America first, it is critically important at this moment in the life of our country that we all, here and now, do just that," Flake said.

"Trust me when I say that you can go elsewhere for a job. But you cannot go elsewhere for a soul."

Source: AFP