WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Senior Democratic and Republican lawmakers presented dueling narratives on Wednesday as a U.S. congressional impeachment inquiry that threatens Donald Trump's tumultuous presidency entered a crucial new phase with the first televised public hearing.

The drama unfolded in a hearing of the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee in which two career U.S. diplomats - William Taylor and George Kent - voiced alarm over the Republican president and those around him pressuring Ukraine to conduct investigations that would benefit Trump politically.

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From left to right: Fox News host Laura Ingraham, Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, and CNN contributor Sean Duffy (Associated Press/Public domain)

Two Fox News hosts and a CNN analyst are facing criticism from reporters and media pundits after suggesting — without evidence — that a decorated war veteran and a White House national security official could be a double-agent.

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Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, director of European affairs at the National Security Council, arrives at the Capitol for his deposition as part of the House's impeachment inquiry on Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2019. (CQ Roll Call/Bill Clark via Associated Press)

WASHINGTON — A U.S. Army officer who works at the White House National Security Council said he listened in on the call between President Donald Trump and Ukraine's president and was so disturbed by the content that he reported his concerns to the NSC's legal counsel.

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman said in a statement prepared for the House impeachment inquiry that the call was just one of the instances he witnessed in which Trump administration officials repeatedly conditioned aid to Ukraine on that country agreeing to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden.

His statement corroborates the complaint made by a whistle-blower in the intelligence community, whom Trump has repeatedly sought to discredit and dismiss. Vindman's testimony is scheduled to be delivered Tuesday to the three House committees leading an impeachment inquiry of Trump and provides a key piece of evidence from someone with first-hand knowledge of the events being investigated.

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Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney takes questions during a news briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., October 17, 2019. (Reuters/Leah Millis)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump's withholding of $391 million in military aid to Ukraine was linked to his request that the Ukrainians look into a claim — debunked as a conspiracy theory — about the 2016 U.S. election, a senior presidential aide said on Thursday, the first time the White House acknowledged such a connection.

Trump and administration officials had denied for weeks that they had demanded a "quid pro quo" - a Latin phrase meaning a favor for a favor - for delivering the U.S. aid, a key part of a controversy that has triggered an impeachment inquiry in the House of Representatives against the Republican president.

But Mick Mulvaney, acting White House chief of staff, acknowledged in a briefing with reporters that the U.S. aid — already approved by Congress — was held up partly over Trump's concerns about a Democratic National Committee (DNC) computer server alleged to be in Ukraine.

"I have news for everybody: Get over it. There is going to be political influence in foreign policy," Mulvaney said.

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Despite the Pentagon's desperate attempts to stay out of the growing Ukraine drama engulfing Washington, senior officials at the Defense Department have been directed to turn documents on military aid to Ukraine to the Office of the General Counsel.

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