Georgian prosecutors said Friday they were probing the alleged misuse of state funds, as accusations surfaced that President Mikheil Saakashvili had spent thousands of dollars of government money on botox treatments in the United States.
“A large-scale investigation has been launched over the misuse of the state budget,” prosecutor’s office spokeswoman Khatuna Paichadze said in televised comments, without revealing details of the subject of the inquiry.
“The prosecutor’s office has the right to question any person that might have been involved and this could be the president of Georgia,” Paichadze added.
According to alleged expense documents aired by anti-Saakashvili broadcaster Imedi on Friday, the president splashed out more than $11,000 (8500 euro) in government money on cosmetic procedures while visiting New York in 2009 and 2011.
The documents also purported to show that Saakashvili spent around $9,000 of state money in the United Kingdom on a naked portrait of an unspecified US actress.
Givi Targamadze, a lawmaker from Saakashvili’s United National Movement party, questioned the authenticity of the documents and recalled the “embarrassment” caused earlier this year by similar claims — later discredited — that the president spent state funds on a sauna with former Ukrainian president Viktor Yushchenko.
The latest allegations come amid a slew of investigations into top allies of the increasingly embattled Saakashvili, whose UNM party lost to a coalition headed by billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili in October parliamentary elections.
Saakashvili, who must step down when his second term as president expires in October, has accused Ivanishvili, now prime minister, of conducting a politically motivated witch hunt against him and his supporters.
Last week, authorities arrested former prime minister Vano Merabishvili — one of Saakashvili’s closest allies — on graft and abuse of power charges.
Merabishvili — currently in jail awaiting trial — denies all the charges, including allegations that he used a government employment scheme to funnel money to UNM members.
After taking power in the 2003 Rose Revolution that ousted the former Soviet elite, Saakashvili led Georgia on a strongly pro-Western course aiming for NATO membership that antagonised Moscow.
However his influence has fallen drastically since losing the parliamentary elections, and he appears increasingly like a lame duck ahead of his inevitable departure later this year.
[Image via Agence France-Presse]
Here’s why Democrats only focused on two Trump crimes in articles of impeachment
MSNBC's Claire McCaskill explained why House Democrats narrowed the focus to just two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump.
The former Missouri senator believes that limiting the scope of the impeachment trial will help Democrats make a stronger case, because the narrative of Trump's wrongdoing will be easier for the public to understand.
"They're doing the 'KISS' principal -- keep it simple, stupid," McCaskill said. "A lot of Americans have tuned this out, and the moment they will tune in again will probably be at the Senate trial in January."
"I believe we'll have a partisan vote on the articles in the House, and a trial with the chief justice of the Supreme Court in the Senate chamber, that's when folks will tune in," she added. "And at that moment it is important that the House managers to have a very simple story to tell, and that is why we're leaving (special counsel Robert) Mueller on the side, bribery on the side, all of that on the side, and they're just focusing on these two simple concepts that the president abused his power by using his office for political gain, and withholding aide from an ally they desperately needed to fight a war with Russia."
Schiff explains why Congress can’t wait to impeach Trump: ‘Why not just let him cheat in one more election?’
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) on Tuesday delivered a blistering rebuttal to critics who say that Congress should wait until it has more evidence to impeach President Donald Trump.
In announcing articles of impeachment against the president, Schiff said that waiting for the courts to weigh in would take far too long and would give Trump even more time to try to rig the election in his favor.
"It took us eight months to get one court decision," Schiff said, referring to the court decision that former White House counsel Don McGahn does not have absolute right to avoid testifying before Congress.
IMPEACHMENT: House announces two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump
At 9:07 AM ET Speaker Nancy Pelosi began a press conference to announce the House will draft and vote upon this week Articles of Impeachment against President Donald Trump. Those articles are abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
Calling it a “solemn day,” the Speaker thanked the six committee chairs who have been engaged in the impeachment inquiry, and gave special thanks to the late Chairman Elijah Cummings.
Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler dsaid Trump “endangers” the Constitution and American democracy.
“Today the House Committee is introducing two articles of impeachment charging President Donald Trump of high crimes and misdemeanors.”