Donald J. Trump Impeachment Inquiry Page 5
A President is impeachable if he attempts to subvert the constitution. This is the speech given by Representative Barbara Jordan (Democrat-Texas) reminding her colleagues on the House Judiciary Committee of the Constitutional basis for impeachment. The Committee met in Washington, D.C.
By Marshall Cohen and Will Houp, CNNHouse Democrats have launched an impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump. Their investigation is based on a whistleblower complaint from a US intelligence official about Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political rivals, including former Vice President Joe Biden, a leading 2020 candidate. There is no evidence of wrongdoing by Biden. CNN is tracking the requests and subpoenas from House Democrats as they collect documents and testimony and move toward drafting articles of impeachment against Trump. If a majority of House lawmakers approve any of the articles, an impeachment trial will be held in the Senate. more...
By Sonam ShethThe United States in late August withdrew its recommendation to restore some of Ukraine's trade privileges, The Washington Post reported Thursday. The move came after John Bolton, then President Donald Trump's national security adviser, informed the US trade representative, Robert Lighthizer, that Trump would most likely oppose any action that benefited Ukraine's newly elected government headed by President Volodymyr Zelensky, the report said. It's unclear whether Trump directed Bolton to convey that message to Lighthizer or whether he was even aware of it. But The Post's reporting adds yet another layer to a growing portrait of the Trump administration's actions as it tried to pressure Ukraine to launch investigations that would politically benefit Trump ahead of the 2020 election. At the time the US was said to withdraw its recommendation to restore certain trade privileges to Ukraine, the president and his allies were engaged in what has been called a shadow foreign-policy campaign that involved stalling a nearly $400 million military-aid package to Ukraine. Bill Taylor, the US's chief envoy to Ukraine, testified to Congress this week that the decision to freeze aid was part of Trump's effort to force Zelensky to cave to his demands for investigations. The Post's reporting indicates that the pressure campaign may have extended to more than just the security assistance. Taylor was one of nearly a dozen current and former government officials who testified as part of Congress' impeachment inquiry examining claims that Trump used his public office for private gain. A career foreign-service officer and war veteran, Taylor gave the most damning testimony to date against the president, directly implicating him as ordering the US to freeze military aid unless Zelensky acceded to his demands. Taylor's testimony appears to be at odds with what Gordon Sondland, the US ambassador to the European Union, told lawmakers last week, and at least one House Democrat said it could open Sondland up to a perjury charge. Taylor testified that shortly after he became the US's acting ambassador to Ukraine in June he realized there were two channels through which US policy toward Ukraine was conducted: an official one, which was spearheaded by Taylor, and an unofficial one led by Sondland, Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, and the US's special representative to Ukraine, Kurt Volker. more...
Trump administration sought billions of dollars in cuts to programs aimed at fighting corruption in Ukraine and elsewhereDemocrats have slammed White House insistence that Trump was focused on corruption — not Bidens — when he blocked Ukraine aid funds.By Erica WernerThe Trump administration has sought repeatedly to cut foreign aid programs tasked with combating corruption in Ukraine and elsewhere overseas, White House budget documents show, despite recent claims from President Trump and his administration that they have been singularly concerned with fighting corruption in Ukraine. Those claims have come as the president and his administration sought to explain away a July phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, during which Trump pressured his counterpart to open investigations into Joe Biden and his son Hunter, and into a debunked conspiracy theory involving a hacked Democratic National Committee computer server. “I don’t care about politics, but I do care about corruption. And this whole thing is about corruption,” Trump told reporters earlier this month when discussing the Ukraine issue. “This whole thing — this whole thing is about corruption.” The phone call is central to the impeachment inquiry by House Democrats. The Democrats have accused Trump of holding back a congressionally approved military aid package for Ukraine until Zelensky publicly committed to launching investigations into the Bidens. On Tuesday, the senior U.S. diplomat in Ukraine — acting ambassador William B. Taylor Jr. — told lawmakers that Trump made the release of military aid to Ukraine contingent on public declarations that it would investigate the Bidens and the 2016 election. Trump, acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and other administration officials have insisted repeatedly that their goal in delaying the military aid package to Ukraine was to ensure corruption was addressed in that country — not to produce political benefit to Trump. “There were two reasons that we held up the aid. We talked about this at some length. The first one was the rampant corruption in Ukraine,” Mulvaney said on “Fox News Sunday.” “Corruption is a big deal; everyone knows it,” he said. (The second reason was to ensure that other nations contributed to Ukraine’s defense, Mulvaney said.) more...
Judge Napolitano Schools ‘Fox & Friends’ on Impeachment: Schiff Just ‘Following the Rules’ Written by GOPFox News’ judicial analyst disappointed his colleagues by explaining there’s nothing wrong with “secret” impeachment hearings.By Matt Wilstein - the daily beastAfter Republican members of the House literally stormed the gates of the impeachment hearings on Wednesday, Judge Andrew Napolitano stopped by Fox & Friends Thursday morning to deliver a harsh wake-up call: Democrats are just “following the rules”—rules written by Republicans. “I read the House rules,” Napolitano said. “And as frustrating as it may be to have these hearings going on behind closed doors—the hearings over which Congressman Schiff is presiding—they are consistent with the rules.” “They can make up any rules they want?!” Brian Kilmeade replied. Speaking more slowly, Napolitano told him, “Well, they can’t change the rules, they follow the rules.” He went to explain that those rules were last written in January 2015 when Republicans held the majority and the Speaker of the House was John Boehner. “The rules say that this level of inquiry, this initial level of inquiry, can be done in secret,” Napolitano said, effectively dismantling the primary talking point of both Fox News and the Trump White House. “Secret evidence doesn’t work in this world, so eventually there will be a public presentation of this,” he added, “at which lawyers for the president can cross-examine these people and challenge them.” “So I get it, the Republicans are frustrated, they wanted to make a point and they made their point, but this is just not the most effective way to show respect for what your colleagues are doing,” Napolitano said. As the Fox & Friends hosts continued to protest, he added, “I know this is going to sound weird, these are not the impeachment hearings. The impeachment hearings have to be held in public by the House Judiciary Committee. This is the initial interview of witnesses to see what they have to say, to determine whether or not they are even worthy of presenting evidence of impeachment.” more...
The evidence concerns two unnamed witnesses in particular, said Rep. Eric Swallwell.By Sam Brodey - The Daily BeastSome Democrats involved in the impeachment inquiry are beginning to suspect that certain witnesses have coordinated with each other ahead of testifying to ensure their stories do not conflict—the very outcome investigators are trying to avoid by conducting hearings behind closed doors. Two Democratic lawmakers told The Daily Beast that, over the course of the nine witness depositions they have conducted over the last several weeks, there have been suggestions that certain witnesses spoke to each other about what they would say to impeachment investigators. “We have direct evidence from our investigation that witnesses have talked to each other about their testimony,” said Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA), a member of the House Intelligence Committee, adding that the evidence concerns two witnesses in particular, whom he declined to name. And Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) said, “There’s some testimony already that has suggested there has been conversation” among witnesses. “We’re working very hard to protect the integrity of the investigation and prevent witnesses from sharing their testimony with each other,” he said. “You can only do that so much.” House Democrats have argued that, at this early stage in the impeachment inquiry, proceedings need to happen behind closed doors so that witnesses aren’t aware of exactly what other witnesses are saying and, therefore, aren’t able to adjust their stories so that they’re all on the same page. That witnesses might coordinate, Swalwell said, is concerning “because they would tailor [testimony] to try and help each other or manufacture alibis.” Doing so while lying under oath, of course, is a crime—something that several Democrats believe may have been committed by at least one witness, U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland. Short of that, less-than-candid testimony from witnesses threatens to undermine the investigation that Democrats are attempting to conduct, all while they get attacked relentlessly by Republicans for not holding hearings that are open to the public. more...
By Nicholas Wu and Bart Jansen, USA TODAYWASHINGTON – William Taylor, the top American diplomat in Ukraine, testified Tuesday before congressional committees conducting an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. According to Taylor, Trump's allies made it clear last year that aid to Ukraine and a White House meeting between Trump and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky would be conditioned on the opening of an investigation into a Ukrainian energy company. Former Vice President Joe Biden's son Hunter was once a board member of that company. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., said Taylor's opening statement drew a "direct line" between releasing the monetary aid and the opening of investigations into the Bidens. The allegation that Trump used his office to pressure Ukraine is what kicked off the impeachment investigation. Taylor's 15-page opening statement was described as "explosive" by Democratic members of Congress present for his testimony. Republicans, on the other hand, said there was "nothing new." Here are the key takeaways from Taylor's opening statement, obtained by the Associated Press and a source familiar with the statement confirmed its authenticity to USA TODAY. 'Two channels' of U.S. policymaking in Ukraine: According to Taylor, there were "two channels" of policymaking in Ukraine. One channel was the official State Department channel. The other involved other American officials and Trump's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani. "There was an irregular, informal channel of U.S. policy-making with respect to Ukraine, one which included then-Special Envoy Kurt Volker, Ambassador (Gordon) Sondland, Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, and as I subsequently learned, Mr. Giuliani," Taylor told congressional members and staff. Taylor said the irregular channel began in May 2019 after an American delegation returned from Ukraine. Taylor says he was told a White House meeting with Zelensky would be conditioned on the opening of investigations: Taylor said "during my subsequent conversations with Ambassadors Volker and Sondland, they relayed to me that the President 'wanted to hear from Zelenskyy' before scheduling the meeting in the Oval Office." "By mid-July it was becoming clear to me that the meeting President Zelenskyy wanted was conditioned on the investigations of Burisma and Ukrainian interference in the 2016 elections," Taylor said. "It was also clear that this condition was driven by the irregular policy channel I had come to understand was guided by Mr. Giuliani." John Bolton called the situation a 'drug deal' Taylor describes a July 19 phone conversation with National Security Council staffers Fiona Hill and Alexander Vindman about a meeting they had with Ukrainian officials on July 10. Hill has already testified before the committees, and Vindman is scheduled to do so. "They told me that Ambassador Sondland had connected 'investigations' with an Oval Office meeting for President Zelenskyy, which so irritated Ambassador Bolton that he abruptly ended the meeting, telling Dr. Hill and Mr. Vindman that they should have nothing to do with domestic politics," Taylor said. "He also directed Dr. Hill to 'brief the lawyers.' Dr. Hill said that Ambassador Bolton referred to this as a 'drug deal' after the July 10 meeting." Bolton also thought a call between Trump and Zelenskyy would be a "disaster" and opposed it, according to Taylor. more...
After William Taylor’s testimony, Trump’s allies are reduced to saying things like “abuse of power is not a crime.”By Zack BeauchampAmbassador William Taylor’s testimony on the Ukraine scandal is the most devastating account to emerge so far from the affair — and maybe even the entire Trump presidency. Taylor, a top US diplomat in Ukraine, lays out a detailed timeline of the scandal, one that makes it clear that President Trump suspended military aid to Ukraine to pressure its president, Volodymyr Zelensky, into opening up an investigation into Hunter Biden and the Ukrainian natural gas company Burisma. Trump’s defense prior to this largely consisted of the catchphrase “no quid pro quo” — the argument that there was never any attempt to trade favors from the US, like military aid or a White House invitation, for a Burisma investigation from Ukraine. This was always deeply implausible, as the White House’s own summary of Trump’s July call with Zelensky is strong evidence that this is what Trump was seeking. Taylor’s testimony pretty much seals the deal. Now the president and his defenders are left flailing, trying to salvage the wreckage of their position through a combination of lies and tortured logic. Take Trump’s tweet on Wednesday morning, largely a quote from a Fox News appearance by Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX): Neither he (Taylor) or any other witness has provided testimony that the Ukrainians were aware that military aid was being withheld. You can’t have a quid pro quo with no quo.” Congressman John Ratcliffe @foxandfriends Where is the Whistleblower? The Do Nothing Dems case is DEAD! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 23, 2019. This is not what Taylor said. The ambassador testifies that Gordon Sondland, the US ambassador to the European Union, met with a senior adviser to Zelensky on September 1 and informed him that “the security assistance money would not come until President Zelensky committed to pursue the Burisma investigation.” According to Taylor’s testimony, Sondland and Trump made this clear to the Ukrainians at the highest level while insisting, in one of the testimony’s most darkly comedic passages, that this was “not a quid-pro-quo,” as if you get immunity from murder charges by yelling “I’m not committing a crime” while stabbing someone: more...
by Jerry LambeIn a jarring protest of Democrats’ impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, House Republicans on Wednesday delayed the process by storming a secure facility during a witness deposition and refusing to leave. The reckless, pizza-fueled, rule-breaking, and potentially law-breaking maneuver was reportedly supported by President Trump. According to Bloomberg News, Trump was made aware in advance of the planned intrusion and “supported” it: Trump had advance knowledge and supported a protest by Republicans who told him they planned to barge into a secure hearing room on Capitol Hill where Democrats are holding impeachment testimonies, according to four people familiar with the matter. Trump on Tuesday met with about 30 House Republicans at the White House to talk about the situation in Syria and the impeachment inquiry. During a nearly two-hour meeting, which focused mostly on the impeachment inquiry, lawmakers shared their plans to storm into the secure room, the people said. Trump supported the action, saying he wanted the transcripts released because they will exonerate him, the people said. CNN also reported that the president had advance knowledge of what was going to happen. The faction of approximately two dozen House GOP members, reportedly led by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), barged into the Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, also known as a SCIF, interrupting the deposition of Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Laura Cooper, yelling and shouting down the procedure as a “sham process.” WATCH: here's the video of when 2 dozen GOP members, led by @mattgaetz entered the secure hearing room (SCIF) to interrupt witness testimony in the #ImpeachmentInquiry as they demand access, despite not being committee members. They're complaining it's a "Soviet-style process". pic.twitter.com/8KddYz3r9D — Scott Thuman (@ScottThuman) October 23, 2019. Gaetz was booted nine days ago when attempting to crash Fiona Hill’s deposition. At least some of the congressional protestors brought their personal cell phones into the SCIF, a major violation of House procedural rules which baffled experienced national security professionals, many of whom noted that the stunt could potentially compromise U.S. national security. SCIFs are secure facilities specifically designed to prevent electronic eavesdropping to enable members of Congress to freely receive and discuss highly classified information relating to national security, such as information collection methods and details in ongoing intelligence operations. Mieke Eoyang, the Vice President of the National Security Program for Washington think tank Third Way, further explained why Wednesday’s ploy potentially endangered U.S. interests. “Foreign adversaries are constantly trying to figure out what goes on inside those rooms to figure out what the U.S. knows about them, to out U.S. high-level sources in their governments, to know what the US government knows and use it against us,” Eoyang remarked. She explained that members of Congress, many of whom do not generally utilize sophisticated security measures, are extremely high-value targets for foreign intel services. “This means they may not know they have been compromised. For example, their phones can be turned into listening devices without their knowledge,” she wrote. “But in ‘storming the SCIF’ without observing the security protocols, Rep. Gaetz et al., endangered our national security [and] demonstrated they care more about a political stunt than protecting intelligence information. I cannot emphasize enough how serious this is.” more...
By Morgan GstalterRep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and other Democrats knocked House Republicans on Wednesday for barging into a classified intelligence room in the U.S. Capitol to disrupt the deposition of a top Defense Department official who was set to testify about President Trump's dealings with Ukraine. “This is what happens when people elect members more interested in media hits than the protection of our national security,” Omar wrote on Twitter. “FYI to everyone who is concerned about my security clearances, I at least know to not bring my cell phones to SCIF and follow protocol.” This is what happens when people elect members more interested in media hits than the protection of our national security. FYI to everyone who is concerned about my security clearances, I at least know to not bring my cell phones to SCIF and follow protocol. https://t.co/R6b93yHZL8 — Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) October 23, 2019. Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), a member of the Intelligence Committee, said Republican members who stormed in “compromised the security” of the room by bringing in phones. He said some members did not give up their phones when asked. Rep. Bill Foster (D-Ill.) called the move “dangerous” and said the Republican members should face consequences for “this reckless behavior that endangers national security.” “Harassment and obstruction by Members cannot be tolerated,” wrote Rep. Alma Adams (D-N.C.) on Twitter. Dozens of representatives, including members of GOP leadership, stormed into the secure room, known as a sensitive compartmented information facility (SCIF), where the deposition of Laura Cooper, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia, was set to take place privately. Republicans argued that other lawmakers, and not just members of the three committees leading the impeachment inquiry into the president, should be able to witness the closed-door hearings. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) postponed the meeting and is reportedly threatening the GOP members with ethics violations. Rep. Matt Gaetz: "We're going to go and see if we can get inside." GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) wrote in a tweet that he was “still inside” the SCIF and was quickly scolded by social media users for using his phone in the room designed to protect sensitive intelligence information. I’ve been in SCIFs a lot. The stupidest thing someone can do is bring an electronic device. You would lose your security clearance +may even face criminal prosecution. If these reports are accurate, those remedies should be looked at.Foreign govts want to target SCIF all the time https://t.co/y8DlS9nLSl — Neal Katyal (@neal_katyal) October 23, 2019. Wait!!? Republicans tried to storm a Secure Classified Information Facility (SCIF) where TOP SECRET +++ information is stored & shared? ITS A TOP SECRET FACILITY RUN BY THE CIA/DOD & GUARDED BY TS/SCI CLEARED ARMED POLICE. This isn’t a joke anymore. Charge them with trespass. https://t.co/1rlN8CxTpT — Malcolm Nance (@MalcolmNance) October 23, 2019. Bringing electronic devices into a SCIF, and this SCIF in particular is *very* problematic, especially when done by members of Congress. more...
Here’s why House Republicans stormed into an impeachment deposition on Wednesday.By Li Zhou and Ella NilsenFor weeks, House Democrats have been deposing current and former Trump administration officials behind closed doors as part of their impeachment inquiry — and for just as long, Republicans have been lambasting the secretive process, using those complaints to distract from the substance of the probe. Things reached a boiling point on Wednesday, as a slew of House Republicans, including ones not on the committees overseeing the inquiry, descended on the House SCIF — the secure room where the depositions are being held. “Behind those doors, they intend to overturn the results of an American presidential election,” argued Rep. Matt Gaetz, the Republican who quite literally led the charge of more than two dozen lawmakers into a highly secured area where they were not supposed to be. The entrance and ensuing shouting from Republicans inside the SCIF was meant to be a major disruption, and it was. Roughly 30 Republicans reportedly rushed past police officers and occupied the room for hours, even ordering pizza at one point — all to delay witness testimony from Pentagon official Laura Cooper. And soon after, Democrats discovered that some of these Republicans had their cellphones on them; a major breach of SCIF protocol. “The whole thing was threatening. Shouting back and forth,” Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA), a member of the Oversight and Foreign Affairs Committee, told Vox. “I sat down, and all of a sudden the room filled up with non-committee members. Initially it was a little hard to realize what was happening. In fact, to be honest with you, I got a little concerned.” more...
By Tim Mak, Lexie Schapitl, Susan DavisRepublican members of Congress disrupted the closed-door proceedings of the House impeachment inquiry, preventing a Pentagon official from giving her testimony. Arguing that the inquiry's interviews should not be held behind closed doors, GOP lawmakers entered the secure area in the Capitol Wednesday where witnesses are typically questioned. "Behind those doors, they intend to overturn the results of an American presidential election" said Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Republican ally of the president's. "We're going to try to go in there ... on behalf of the millions of Americans that we represent that want to see this Congress working for them, and not obsessed with attacking a president who we believe has not done anything to deserve impeachment." Democratic lawmakers have argued that the initial interviews of the investigation must be done in private to prevent witnesses from coordinating testimony. "As the investigation proceeds, and at a time that it will not jeopardize investigative equities, we will make the interview transcripts public," House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said in a letter to colleagues last week. Schiff also promised public hearings would be coming in the future "so that the full Congress and the American people can hear their testimony firsthand." This was not enough to mollify the group of GOP lawmakers. On Wednesday morning, led by Gaetz, approximately two dozen lawmakers attempted to enter the rooms in the Capitol where Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Laura Cooper was scheduled to be interviewed. Since these lawmakers were not members of the committees overseeing the impeachment inquiry, they were denied access. The impeachment inquiry is being led by the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees. The effort proved disruptive to the day's proceedings. Cooper's testimony has been delayed indeterminately because a number of Republican lawmakers are still in that secure area, where they are not authorized to be. The area is designated as secure — classified materials and witness testimony is discussed there and only lawmakers and a small number of staff are allowed entry. more... - Republicans cannot defend Trump on facts so there going to try to use the process to defend Trump. If Bill Barr had done his job and investigated the whistleblower’s compliant Democrats would not have to do the investigation needed before and impeachment vote. Republicans do not believe our laws and constitution applies to them. Republicans only care about our laws and the constitution when they are using it to attack democrats.
By Manu Raju and Jeremy Herb, CNN(CNN) - Roughly two-dozen House Republicans on Wednesday stormed a closed-door deposition in secure House Intelligence Committee spaces to rail against the Democratic-led impeachment inquiry, a political stunt ratcheting up the GOP complaints about the process that threw the deposition into doubt. The conservative lawmakers, led by Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, barged into the deposition and demanded they be allowed to see the closed-door proceedings where members of three committees planned to interview Deputy Assistant Defense Secretary Laura Cooper as part of the impeachment probe into President Donald Trump. The chaotic scene, with Republicans flouting House rules to make a political point, represented a new and more confrontational phase of the Republican attack on House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff and the Democratic impeachment investigation. By early afternoon, pizza and snacks were being brought into the committee area. While the lawmakers in the secure room left around 2 p.m. ET to attend House votes, Minority Whip Steve Scalise, a Louisiana Republican who was one of the lawmakers taking part in the protest, said they might return later in the day. It wasn't clear whether the deositon would still happen on Wednesday. A source in the room said that as the witness, Cooper, was sitting down to testify, the Republicans stormed through the room's three different doors. Rep. Bradley Byrne of Alabama was yelling at Schiff, but the California Democrat did not engage, the source said. Other Democrats, including Rep. Val Demings of Florida, shouted back at both Byrne and Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas, who were yelling about the process. Demings, according to one source in the room, asked Republicans if they were trying to teach their children "that it's OK to lie, steal and cheat so long as you don't get caught?" "Don't you have any work to do today?" she said to one Republican member, according to the source. Cooper left the room while the Republicans refused to vacate the space. The source says the Capitol Police and sergeant at arms have been consulted as members refuse to leave the room, and lawmakers say there are ongoing negotiations about how to end the standoff. "It was closest thing I've seen around here to mass civil unrest as a member of Congress," said one source in the room. The Republicans even walked into the hearing room with their electronics, according to Democratic Rep. Gerry Connolly of Virginia, which is prohibited in the space, known as a SCIF -- a sensitive compartmented information facility -- because it's a secure room used for discussing and handling classified information. GOP Rep. Mike Conaway of Texas, who is on the House Intelligence Committee, collected the electronics. "All of us put our electronics in boxes outside," Connolly said. "That SCIF is used by Congress for lots of highly classified purposes. To compromise that to make a point, is deeply troubling." more... - Republicans cannot defend Trump on facts so there going to try to use the process to defend Trump. If Bill Barr had done his job and investigated the whistleblower’s compliant Democrats would not have to do the investigation needed before and impeachment vote. Republicans do not believe our laws and constitution applies to them. Republicans only care about our laws and the constitution when they are using it to attack democrats.
By Bart Jansen, USA TODAYWASHINGTON – The U.S. diplomat who called President Donald Trump’s demand for Ukraine to investigate a political rival in exchange for military aid “crazy” takes center stage Tuesday, as the House impeachment inquiry enters its fifth week. Other witnesses scheduled for closed-door depositions with the three committees – Foreign Affairs, Intelligence, and Oversight and Reform – include budget and defense officials. Democrats leading the inquiry have said they want to learn more about how Trump withheld nearly $400 million in military aid while asking Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky in a July 25 call to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter. House Republicans expect to vote Monday on a resolution censuring the leader of the inquiry, Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif. A Republican leader also proposed to change House rules so that any lawmaker could attend the sessions. Republicans have complained about limited access to the sessions. Monday: GOP calls for Schiff censure: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said Friday there would be a vote Monday on a resolution to censure Schiff. The resolution is unlikely to be approved because Democrats hold a majority in the 435-member chamber, but it is co-sponsored by 165 Republicans. McCarthy said Schiff has lied repeatedly during the investigation of Trump. McCarthy argued that Schiff should be held to a higher standard as chairman of the Intelligence Committee because he is privy to information that rank-and-file members don’t receive. “He has tried to hide so many of the facts, and then when he was put in position to give the facts, he lied about them,” McCarthy said. “He should be held accountable just like every other member.” Despite GOP complaints, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has repeatedly supported Schiff's leadership in the inquiry. more...
By Steve Holland, Patricia ZengerleWASHINGTON (Reuters) - Donald Trump on Monday exhorted fellow Republicans to get tougher and fight for his presidency, saying the Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives wants to impeach him “as quick as possible” over his request that Ukraine investigate a political rival. Trump made his comments during a White House Cabinet meeting as Democrats sought to build public support for their fast-moving impeachment inquiry and the administration pressed its efforts to stonewall the probe. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a video and “fact sheet” that may give hints about the articles of impeachment - formal charges - Democrats may pursue against Republican Trump, accusing him of abuse of power, a “shakedown” involving Ukraine and a cover-up. Republicans in the House of Representatives tried to censure one of the inquiry’s leaders, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, but the motion was blocked by Democrats who control the chamber. Few Republican lawmakers have shown an inclination to remove Trump from office even as Democrats focus on his pushing a vulnerable foreign ally to interfere to his benefit in the November 2020 U.S. election by providing political dirt on Joe Biden, a leading contender for the Democratic presidential nomination to run against Trump. Senator Mitt Romney is one of the few Republicans who have sharply criticized Trump, who has denied wrongdoing. Other Republicans have expressed misgivings about Trump policies, including criticism from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senator Lindsey Graham of his withdrawal of U.S. troops here in northeastern Syria, which exposed U.S.-allied Kurdish fighters to a Turkish cross-border offensive. Approval of articles of impeachment in the House would prompt a trial in the Republican-led Senate on whether to remove Trump from office. “The Republicans have to get tougher and fight. We have some that are great fighters, but they have to get tougher and fight, because the Democrats are trying to hurt the Republican Party before the election,” Trump said. more...
Democrats said Taylor drew a "direct line" between the president's demand that Ukraine investigate his political rivals and distribution of U.S. military aid.By Rebecca Shabad, Leigh Ann Caldwell, Alex Moe and Haley TalbotWASHINGTON — The top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, Bill Taylor, offered a "disturbing" portrayal of President Donald Trump's Ukraine dealings in closed-door testimony Tuesday to impeachment investigators, according to House Democrats. Democrats described Taylor’s testimony as crucial, saying that he not only filled in many of the holes created by previous testimony and depositions but also drew a "direct line" between the president's demand for an investigation by the Ukrainians into his political rivals and U.S. military aid. "I do not know how you would listen to today's testimony by the ambassador, Ambassador Taylor, and draw any other conclusion, except that the president abused his power and withheld foreign aid," said Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla. "It's a direct line." Rep. Steven Lynch, D-Mass., said "without question" it was the most powerful testimony heard to date, because Taylor has "first-hand knowledge” of all the relevant conversations. Members of the House Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees questioned Taylor about text messages between him and two other American diplomats about the Trump administration's policy toward Ukraine. His interview is expected to last throughout Tuesday. Taylor’s opening statement, which NBC News has not viewed, was 15 pages, according to Rep. Harley Rouda, D-Calif. Two Democrats also said that Taylor took "meticulous" personal notes but those have not yet been handed over to the committee. After departing the closed-door deposition a few hours in, freshman Rep. Andy Levin, D-Mich., told reporters that it was his "most disturbing day in the Congress so far." "Very troubling," Levin added, without elaborating further. "Today's testimony was explosive," Rep. Adriano Espaillat, D-N.Y., said Wasserman Schultz also described the testimony as "one of the most" disturbing days she’s had in Congress. Republicans said little or played down Taylor’s testimony. "Nothing new here," Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina said. Taylor’s testimony, multiple Democrats say, make it clear that E.U. Ambassador Gordon Sondland needs to return to answer questions from the committee. Sondland refused to answer many questions in his testimony last week, according to multiple lawmakers who listened to his testimony. Sondland told Taylor, who had raised concerns about withholding military aide in exchange for a political campaign, in a text message on Sept. 9 after speaking to the president that the president was clear that there is “no quid pro quo.” As part of text messages between Taylor, Sondland, and then-special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker, Taylor expressed concern about why U.S. military assistance for Ukraine was held up by the White House. "As I said on the phone, I think it's crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign," Taylor texted Sondland on Sept. 9, according to text messages provided to Congress by Volker and released by the committees involved in the inquiry. Democrats have pointed to the text exchange, a critical piece of the impeachment investigation, as part of burgeoning body of proof that there was a quid pro quo involved between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in which Trump held up the military aid in exchange for Ukraine agreeing to conduct probes that would be politically advantageous to Trump. "He was very distressed," according to a source who witnessed firsthand Taylor’s experiences dealing with the Zelenskiy and Trump administrations between May and September of this year. more...
"All Republicans must remember what they are witnessing here — a lynching," Trump tweeted. "But we will WIN!"By Allan SmithPresident Donald Trump has called the House impeachment inquiry a "coup," a "witch hunt" and a "fraud," but he introduced a new phrase to describe the process on Tuesday: "a lynching." "So some day, if a Democrat becomes President and the Republicans win the House, even by a tiny margin, they can impeach the President, without due process or fairness or any legal rights," Trump tweeted. "All Republicans must remember what they are witnessing here — a lynching. But we will WIN!" The president's use of "lynching," which elicits a time when black Americans were murdered by extrajudicial white mobs, was the subject of immediate blowback. "You think this impeachment is a LYNCHING?" Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., tweeted. "What the hell is wrong with you? Do you know how many people who look like me have been lynched, since the inception of this country, by people who look like you. Delete this tweet." "We can all disagree on the process, and argue merits," Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., tweeted. "But never should we use terms like 'lynching' here. The painful scourge in our history has no comparison to politics, and @realDonaldTrump should retract this immediately. May God help us to return to a better way." According to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, more than 4,700 lynchings took place in the U.S. from 1882 to 1968. Of those who were lynched, more than 3,400 were black, though not all lynchings that took place were recorded, the NAACP noted. Many of the whites who were lynched, the organization adds, were killed for helping black Americans or being against lynching. Lawmakers continued to blast Trump's remarks through the morning. Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif. and the chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, tweeted that Trump was "comparing a constitutional process to the PREVALENT and SYSTEMATIC brutal torture of people in THIS COUNTRY that looked like me?" "Using this term draws up some of America’s darkest history — Trump is yet again a disgrace and massively offensive," wrote Rep. Yvette Clarke, D-N.Y., in a Twitter post. "Nobody is above the law, including him. He has abused his power — and he’s been caught. Do not get caught up in his latest distraction tactic." "It’s beyond shameful to use the word 'lynching' to describe being held accountable for your actions," former Housing Secretary Julián Castro, a Democratic presidential candidate, tweeted. Many of the 2020 Democratic candidates, including Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kamala Harris of California, echoed that sentiment Tuesday. Speaking on CNN, Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., said the president's early morning tweet was "another indication" of how "loose" he is "with his words." Clyburn, a top-ranking Democrat, said the president's comparison of impeachment to lynching offended his sense of history. more...
The late Elijah Cummings, as chairman of the House Oversight Committee, had a valid reason for seeking the president's financial records, the judges said.By Danny CevallosA federal appeals court ruled last week that President Donald Trump's accounting firm must turn over financial records requested by a House committee. In April, the House Oversight and Reform Committee subpoenaed the firm, Mazars USA, for documents related to Trump's accounts going back to January 2009. His lawyers fought back with a lawsuit in the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia that argued Congress had no legitimate legislative purpose for getting the materials. In a 2-1 ruling, a three-judge panel of the court disagreed but put a temporary hold on the legal effect of its decision to allow Trump's lawyers to appeal. A large part of the court’s opinion, which runs more than 100 pages, can be distilled into three questions: Is the Oversight Committee pursuing a legislative, as opposed to a law-enforcement, objective? Is the committee investigating a subject on which constitutional legislation could be enacted? And does the subpoena seek information relevant to the legislative inquiry? If the committee is pursuing only a crime-fighting objective, that could exceed its authority because such missions are exclusive to the executive and judicial branches. On the other hand, observers of congressional hearings have long known that the legislative purpose is not invalidated just because some criminal activity is unearthed during the process. An April memorandum from Elijah Cummings, the longtime Baltimore congressman and chairman of the oversight panel who died on Thursday, identified four objectives of the subpoena: determine “whether the President may have engaged in illegal conduct before and during his tenure in office”; “whether [the President] has undisclosed conflicts of interest that may impair his ability to make impartial policy decisions”; “whether [the President] is complying with the Emoluments Clauses of the Constitution,” and “whether [the President] has accurately reported his finances to the Office of Government Ethics and other federal entities.” To the court, this and other supporting documents provided strong evidence that the committee has a valid legislative purpose. Trump's lawyers argued that the Oversight Committee's statements were disingenuous, concealing the panel's true — and improper — law enforcement purpose. They also contended that the first objective of the subpoena, to determine “whether the President … engaged … in illegal conduct," establishes that Congress is improperly engaging in law enforcement. In response, the court pointed out that the committee has gone beyond just saying insincere but validating words. As long as the panel's stated purpose is buttressed by references to specific past or future problems, and those problems could be the subjects of appropriate legislation, then it is not for the court to say that Congress has exceeded its broad power. As for the investigation into possible “illegal conduct" on the president's part, the court held that even a mere congressional interest in past crimes can qualify as a constitutional interest in remedial legislation. So broad is Congress' power that even an investigation into the prior bad conduct of a single person can be valid when the objective is to enact legislation to fix the problem, the court said.
By Philip EwingPresident Trump deputized lawyer Rudy Giuliani to run a shadow foreign policy for Ukraine outside the State Department, witnesses told Congress this past week — and the White House said people should "get over it." It's been a busy week. Here's what you need to know about the latest in the Ukraine affair and the impeachment investigation. Mister mayor: Giuliani has been an important figure in Trump world for years but what investigators heard was how central he was in the plan to get Ukraine's government to launch investigations that Trump wanted. Trump wanted Ukraine's new government, led by President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, to investigate a conspiracy theory of Trump's about the 2016 cyberattacks on the Democratic National Committee and the family of former Vice President Joe Biden, ostensibly over "corruption." In exchange, it appears Trump was prepared to engage with Zelenskiy and continue the flow of military assistance, appropriated by Congress, that had been flowing to Kyiv since it was invaded by Russia in 2014. Although Trump may not have told many officials about that plan in real time, Trump did ask early for many of them to work with Giuliani in their dealings with Europe and with Ukraine, the witnesses said. The "hand grenade" Top aides including then-national security adviser John Bolton and Trump's former top Russia adviser, Fiona Hill, may have worried about the Ukraine pressure strategy on its merits. Ukraine is a U.S. ally resisting a military incursion by an adversary, its neighbor Russia. Because the depositions are closed, it still isn't fully clear what witnesses have told Congress. But what has become clear is how unhappy the national security and foreign policy professionals were at being asked to involve someone they viewed as an interloper in Giuliani. Bolton warned he was a "hand grenade" in danger of blowing up and hurting everyone around him, Hill told members of Congress, according to people familiar with her testimony. She also was said to have flagged concerns within the National Security Council about what she considered departures from official process. Bolton and Hill resigned earlier this year. People still within the administration, however, also are said to resent what they considered the interference represented by Giuliani — along with what may have been incomplete awareness in real time about what Trump was orchestrating with U.S. policy toward Ukraine. Three top State Department officials — Michael McKinley, George Kent and the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland — are understood to have told House investigators they thought foreign policy should be conducted by diplomats and professionals. McKinley said he resented the scourging — led by Giuliani — of then-U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovich, which resulted in her being discredited inside the administration and withdrawn from Kyiv prematurely. Members of Congress earlier reviewed materials submitted by a State Department whistleblower that were described as "propaganda" about Yovanovich that led to her ouster. She testified on Oct. 11. Why did Trump sideline the diplomats? Kent told members of Congress that the White House wanted a reliable cadre of "three amigos" handling the Ukraine portfolio, according to one account of his testimony given by Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va. If correct, this suggests the president or Giuliani did not consider Yovanovich, Hill or others trustworthy enough as the White House was shaping its pressure campaign for Ukraine. Instead, Trump or acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney commissioned the "amigos:" Sondland; Kurt Volker, another State Department envoy to Ukraine; and Energy Secretary Rick Perry.
By ANTHONY ADRAGNASenior House Democrats say they won’t let up on their demands for documents and testimony from outgoing Energy Secretary Rick Perry in the wake of his resignation announcement — and at least one Republican agrees with them. Rep. Francis Rooney (R-Fla.) called on Perry Friday to comply with a House subpoena and cooperate with the impeachment inquiry into the Trump administration's actions in Ukraine. The secretary faces a Friday deadline to comply with the subpoena but has not said what he plans to do. “Everybody that can bring any information to the table ought to testify, so that some huge mistake is not inadvertently made,” Rooney told POLITICO. “I’d like to see any evidence that needs to be adduced brought up and made available to people.” Democrats say they do not know what to make of his resignation and whether he’ll cooperate with their investigation. “We, as a Congress, need to obtain his trip records and places he traveled, individuals with whom he spoke,” said Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), who chairs the House Appropriations subcommittee responsible for funding DOE. “I believe Secretary Perry to be a patriot. I have no idea what he’s caught in, if he’s caught up in anything.” Kaptur said she sent a text message this morning to House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) asking him to demand testimony from the secretary. She said Schiff had not responded as of midday Friday. A spokesperson for the Intelligence Committee declined comment on whether it would seek Perry's testimony.
Washington Post: Career diplomat testifies he raised concerns about Hunter Biden's Ukraine work in 2015
By Caroline Kelly, CNN
8 Trump officials made stunning revelations about how the president and Giuliani weaponized the State DepartmentBy Sonam ShethIn the weeks since House Democrats launched a formal impeachment inquiry into whether President Donald Trump used his public office for private gain, current and former officials have come out of the woodwork to testify against the president. At times defying orders from the White House itself, these officials' revelations paint a stark portrait of a concerted effort from the highest levels of the Trump administration to leverage US foreign policy for the president's political benefit. They also show how he employed his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and top cabinet officials to bend federal agencies to suit his needs. Chief among those is the US State Department which, according to testimony from current and former officials, was used as part of an effort to circumvent career diplomats and policy experts and carry out a shadow foreign-policy agenda with respect to Ukraine. At least eight current and former officials have so far testified, or are planning to testify, about how the State Department was used as a vehicle for Trump and Giuliani's political goals:
The U.S. ambassador to the EU will tell Congress that he was effectively forced to work with Rudy Giuliani on Ukraine by the president.By Jamie Ross, Betsy Swan and Spencer AckermanGordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, will tell Congress that President Donald Trump told him to help his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani with his plan on Ukraine. In his opening statement, which was obtained by The Daily Beast, Sondland wrote that any plot to encourage a foreign government to influence an American election would have been “wrong.” “I did not understand, until much later, that Mr. Giuliani’s agenda might have also included an effort to prompt the Ukrainians to investigate Vice President Biden or his son or to involve Ukrainians, directly or indirectly, in the President’s 2020 reelection campaign,” he will say, according to the written version of his opening statement. Sondland's role in the pressure campaign on the Ukrainian president was first revealed by The Daily Beast. He and Giuliani encouraged President Volodymyr Zelensky to publicly announce an investigation into the Bidens. It has been alleged that there was a quid pro quo whereby Zelensky would be rewarded by the White House with a meeting between the presidents in return for launching an investigation into one of Trump's potential 2020 rivals. “Please know that I would not have recommended that Mr. Giuliani or any private citizen be involved in these foreign policy matters. However, given the President’s explicit direction, as well as the importance we attached to arranging a White House meeting between Presidents Trump and Zelensky, we agreed to do as President Trump directed,” Sondland wrote. “Based on the President’s direction, we were faced with a choice: We could abandon the goal of a White House meeting for President Zelensky, which we all believed was crucial to strengthening U.S.-Ukrainian ties and furthering long-held U.S. foreign policy goals in the region; or we could do as President Trump directed and talk to Mr. Giuliani to address the President’s concerns.” The testimony describes how Trump's obsession with investigating his political rival put on hold Sondland's efforts to strengthen U.S. ties with Ukraine. Sondland will say he was “disappointed” that Trump wouldn't commit to a meeting with Zelensky until he spoke to Giuliani. “It was apparent to all of us that the key to changing the President’s mind on Ukraine was Mr. Giuliani,” the statement reads. “It is my understanding that Energy Secretary Perry and Special Envoy Volker took the lead on reaching out to Mr. Giuliani, as the President had directed.” According to the testimony, when he spoke to Giuliani it was made clear that Trump wanted a public statement from Zelensky “committing Ukraine to look into anticorruption issues.” Sondland will say: “Mr. Giuliani specifically mentioned the 2016 election (including the DNC server) and Burisma as two anticorruption investigatory topics of importance for the President.”
Gordon Sondland, the US ambassador to the EU, seems to lay a lot of blame at Rudy Giuliani’s feet.By Alex WardOne of the main players under investigation in the House impeachment inquiry used his opening testimony to lawmakers Thursday to throw Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, under the bus. Gordon Sondland, the US ambassador to the EU, delivered an 18-page written statement to congressional investigators in advance of hours of questioning. He’ll be asked about the Trump administration’s effort to get Ukraine to launch an investigation into Joe Biden’s family in exchange for US military aid and a meeting between the two countries’ presidents. Trump falsely believes Biden used his power as vice president to stop a corruption probe into Burisma, a Ukrainian gas company Hunter Biden — Joe’s son — sat on the board of. Sondland is a key figure in the drama, as text messages revealed earlier this month showed the ambassador working with Giuliani and top US officials to coordinate the White House’s Ukraine policy. But his main message to Congress in his prepared opening statement was that he had merely aimed to faithfully execute the administration’s policy involving normal, non-corrupt relations with Ukraine. The only one pushing anything about Burisma, Sondland claims, was Giuliani. Sondland also claims Giuliani clearly tied a possible meeting between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky with Ukraine opening a probe into Burisma as part of a “deliverable” Trump wanted from the country. Importantly, however, Sondland doesn’t say Trump himself purposefully did anything wrong. But the main narrative is that Sondland is innocent of any wrongdoing and that anything inappropriate came from Giuliani — likely in hopes that the former New York City mayor gets a nice view of a public transport vehicle’s underside. Trump wanted Giuliani to help lead Ukraine policy: Sondland makes the case that Trump wanted Giuliani intimately involved in carrying out the administration’s Ukraine policy. Sondland describes a May 23 meeting he and other US officials had with Trump and his aides about organizing a phone call and meeting between Trump and Zelensky. “President Trump was skeptical that Ukraine was serious about reforms and anti-corruption, and he directed those of us present at the meeting to talk to Mr. Giuliani, his personal attorney, about his concerns,” Sondland says. Sondland says that those in the meeting — including Energy Secretary Rick Perry and then-Special Envoy for Ukraine Kurt Volker — didn’t like that, as they wanted Ukraine policy to remain in official channels. But, the ambassador explains, they all chose to comply with the president’s command. “Based on the President’s direction, we were faced with a choice: We could abandon the goal of a White House meeting for President Zelensky, which we all believed was crucial to strengthening US-Ukrainian ties and furthering long-held US foreign policy goals in the region; or we could do as President Trump directed and talk to Mr. Giuliani to address the President’s concerns. We chose the latter path,” Sondland said. This is important: Sondland is testifying that Trump explicitly delegated Ukrainian policy to Giuliani. And the only way to get the Trump-Zelensky meeting Sondland and others wanted was to work with the president’s personal lawyer on the president’s concerns — otherwise, they would have to “abandon” any hopes of a meeting. And, as Sondland lays out, those “concerns” involved the Bidens. Giuliani emphasizes that Burisma is important to Trump: Describing a set of short phone conversations with Giuliani starting in May, “Mr. Giuliani emphasized that the President wanted a public statement from [Ukrainian] President Zelensky committing Ukraine to look into anti-corruption issues,” Sondland testified. “Mr. Giuliani specifically mentioned the 2016 election (including the DNC server) and Burisma as two anticorruption investigatory topics of importance for the President.” Sondland then adds: “Mr. Giuliani does not work for me or my Mission and I do not know what official or unofficial role, if any, he has with the State Department.”
Ambassador breaks with Trump, testifying the President directed diplomats to work with Giuliani on UkraineBy Jeremy Herb, Katelyn Polantz and Manu Raju, CNN(CNN) - US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland was directed by President Donald Trump to work with Rudy Giuliani on Ukraine, he told Congress on Thursday, and was left with a choice: Abandon efforts to bolster a key strategic alliance or work to satisfy the demands of the President's personal lawyer.Sondland said he wasn't aware until "much later" that Giuliani's agenda might have included an effort to "prompt the Ukrainians" to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter and to involve the Ukrainians in the President's campaign, according to his opening statement, which was obtained by CNN in advance of the deposition. Sondland's revealing testimony is a clear break with Trump over Giuliani — he said he was "disappointed" that Trump wouldn't commit to a meeting sought by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky until they spoke with Giuliani, who was pursuing an investigation into Biden, a potential political rival in Trump's reelection campaign. And the ambassador's testimony showcases how Trump put on hold an effort to strengthen relations with Ukraine until top US officials were in contact with his personal attorney. "Based on the President's direction, we were faced with a choice: We could abandon the goal of a White House meeting for President Zelensky, which we all believed was crucial to strengthening U.S.-Ukrainian ties and furthering long-held U.S. foreign policy goals in the region; or we could do as President Trump directed and talk to Mr. Giuliani to address the President's concerns," Sondland said in his opening statement. "We chose the latter path, which seemed to all of us -- Secretary (Rick) Perry, Ambassador (Kurt) Volker, and myself -- to be the better alternative," Sondland continued. "But I did not understand, until much later, that Mr. Giuliani's agenda might have also included an effort to prompt the Ukrainians to investigate Vice President Biden or his son or to involve Ukrainians, directly or indirectly, in the President's 2020 reelection campaign." Sondland's testimony Thursday comes as he's under fire for his role in the July 25 call between Trump and Zelensky, in which Trump repeatedly urged Zelensky to open an investigation into the Bidens. Sondland's testimony is likely to ratchet up the Democrats' focus on the concerns top officials expressed about Giuliani's involvement in Ukraine — and how they disagreed with Trump's insistence on using his private attorney to negotiate diplomatic efforts. Sondland's text messages with the top US diplomat in Ukraine, Bill Taylor, are a key data point for the impeachment investigation, in which Sondland told Taylor there was "no quid pro quo" after speaking to Trump about the matter. Sondland's testimony says that he knew of no arrangement tying US security assistance to Ukraine with an investigation into the Bidens — but also that it would be wrong to do so. "Let me state clearly: Inviting a foreign government to undertake investigations for the purpose of influencing an upcoming U.S. election would be wrong," Sondland said, according to the statement. "Withholding foreign aid in order to pressure a foreign government to take such steps would be wrong. I did not and would not ever participate in such undertakings. In my opinion, security aid to Ukraine was in our vital national interest and should not have been delayed for any reason."
Republicans and Democrats familiar with the closed-door testimony in the House impeachment inquiry tell Axios that Rudy Giuliani and his Ukraine activity has been a unifying thread for the witnesses. The other side: White House sources say that they're increasingly pulling their hair out because of him. Our big takeaway: While Democrats say that everything they’ve heard so far has only helped them, nothing in the depositions so far appears to have moved any Republicans closer to impeachment. What to watch: How much longer can the committees sustain this pace? Fatigue is appearing on both sides. Pelosi quote du jour: "We were sending that military assistance because of Ukraine needing that vis-à-vis Russia. All roads seem to lead to Putin with the president though, isn’t it so?" What we're watching: House Dems began discussing the possibility of summoning acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and former national security adviser John Bolton, per the WashPost. "Three amigos": Career State Department official George Kent testified that he was told by administration officials to "lay low" on Ukraine as "three amigos" tied to the White House took over U.S. foreign policy toward the Eastern European ally, AP reports.
By Katelyn Polantz, Jeremy Herb and Manu Raju, CNN(CNN) - US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland was directed by President Donald Trump to work with Rudy Giuliani on Ukraine, he plans to tell Congress Thursday, and was left with a choice: Abandon efforts to bolster a key strategic alliance or work to satisfy the demands of the President's personal lawyer. Sondland plans to say he wasn't aware until "much later" that Giuliani's agenda might have included an effort to "prompt the Ukrainians" to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter and to involve the Ukrainians in the President's campaign, according to his opening statement, which was obtained by CNN. The revealing testimony of the President's top diplomat showcases how Trump put on hold an effort to strengthen relations with the country until top US officials were in contact with Giuliani, who was pursuing an investigation into the Bidens, a potential political rival in Trump's reelection campaign. And Sondland said he was "disappointed" that Trump wouldn't commit to a meeting sought by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky until they spoke with Giuliani. "Based on the President's direction, we were faced with a choice: We could abandon the goal of a White House meeting for President Zelensky, which we all believed was crucial to strengthening U.S.-Ukrainian ties and furthering long-held U.S. foreign policy goals in the region; or we could do as President Trump directed and talk to Mr. Giuliani to address the President's concerns," Sondland will testify. "We chose the latter path, which seemed to all of us -- Secretary (Rick) Perry, Ambassador (Kurt) Volker, and myself -- to be the better alternative," Sondland continues. "But I did not understand, until much later, that Mr. Giuliani's agenda might have also included an effort to prompt the Ukrainians to investigate Vice President Biden or his son or to involve Ukrainians, directly or indirectly, in the President's 2020 reelection campaign." Sondland's testimony comes Thursday as he's under fire for his role in the July 25 call between Trump and Zelensky, in which Trump repeatedly urged Zelensky to open an investigation into the Bidens. Sondland's testimony is likely to ratchet up the Democrats' focus on the concerns top officials expressed about Giuliani's involvement in Ukraine — and how they disagreed with Trump's assistance on using his private attorney to negotiate diplomatic efforts. Sondland's text messages with top US diplomat in Ukraine, Bill Taylor, are a key data point for the impeachment investigation, in which Sondland told Taylor there was "no quid pro quo" after speaking to Trump about the matter. Sondland's testimony says that he knew of no arrangement tying US security assistance to Ukraine with an investigations into the Bidens — but also that it would be wrong to do so. "Let me state clearly: Inviting a foreign government to undertake investigations for the purpose of influencing an upcoming U.S. election would be wrong," Sondland will say. "Withholding foreign aid in order to pressure a foreign government to take such steps would be wrong. I did not and would not ever participate in such undertakings. In my opinion, security aid to Ukraine was in our vital national interest and should not have been delayed for any reason."
By Zack BudrykEnergy Secretary Rick Perry said President Trump directed him to discuss Ukraine corruption concerns with Rudy Giuliani in the spring, according to an interview with The Wall Street Journal. Perry told the news outlet that he reached out to Giuliani, the president's personal lawyer, to ask for help in arranging a meeting between Trump and his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky. Perry told the newspaper that he and other officials, including former special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker, had urged Trump to meet with Zelensky shortly after he took office, but Trump expressed reservations, citing the country’s history of political corruption, and told Perry to “visit with Rudy.” “And as I recall the conversation, he said, ‘Look, the president is really concerned that there are people in Ukraine that tried to beat him during this presidential election,’ ” Perry told the newspaper. “ ‘He thinks they’re corrupt and ... that there are still people over there engaged that are absolutely corrupt.’ ” Perry said that in his conversation with Giuliani, the attorney cited baseless claims, which have frequently been mentioned by Trump, including that Ukraine was in possession of Hillary Clinton’s email server, had fabricated evidence against Trump’s ex-campaign chairman Paul Manafort and was responsible for a former British spy’s dossier alleging that Russia had compromising information on Trump. “I don’t know whether that was crap or what,” Perry said, “but I’m just saying there were three things that he said. That’s the reason the president doesn’t trust these guys.” Perry said Giuliani “didn’t say they gotta do X, Y and Z. He just said, ‘You want to know why he ain’t comfortable about letting this guy come in? Here’s the reason.’ ”
Analysis by Stephen Collinson, CNN(CNN) - The White House is launching a new effort to slow the speeding Democratic impeachment push, but its noncooperation strategy is being constantly thwarted by a daily stream of explosive secrets being spilled behind closed doors on Capitol Hill. Current and former officials are painting an ever more damning picture of a wider than originally perceived scheme by President Donald Trump and his crew to pressure Ukraine that they warned could amount to a trampling of US law. Vice President Mike Pence launched a new effort Tuesday to bolster White House hopes of stalling the House inquiry long enough for Trump to turn public opinion against it. He refused to turn over documents related to Trump's now notorious call with the President of Ukraine on July 25. But White House officials are becoming increasingly frustrated at revelations from the closed-door hearings. Given that there is no presidential counsel in the room, they struggle to frame a defense, learning about almost daily bombshells only from news reports, CNN reported on Tuesday. And the possibility that former national security adviser John Bolton -- who may have little incentive to shield the President who recently ousted him -- could soon be called to testify will do little to ease the impression among White House officials that they are flying blind. Fresh testimony in recent days has elevated the crisis for Trump. It has appeared to expose an off-the-books effort to perform an end run around US foreign policy officials with political appointees that predated his notorious phone call with the President of Ukraine in which he sought dirt on his possible 2020 foe Joe Biden. On Monday, former senior White House Russia aide Fiona Hill testified that she had tried to raise the alarm about possibly illegal activity -- and had been encouraged to do so by Bolton. A senior State Department official, George Kent, testified Tuesday that he'd been told by a supervisor to lie low after complaining about Rudy Giuliani's meddling in Ukraine, according to Democratic Rep. Gerry Connolly of Virginia, who sits on the House Oversight Committee. More peril looms for the White House on Thursday, when Gordon Sondland, the US ambassador to the European Union, is expected to tell lawmakers that a text he sent to a colleague insisting there was no quid pro quo offered to Ukraine was dictated by the President himself. The most worrying development so far this week for the Trump team is that Hill's stunning mention of Bolton raises the possibility that a possibly disgruntled former national security adviser, who was forced out under a cloud, may have an incentive to offer testimony that could damage his former boss. Trump's rather worn defense of his actions exemplifies the depth of his problem. The Ukraine story has outpaced the President's attacks on a whistleblower who first exposed the story and his defense of his "perfect" call with Ukraine's President. Trump's allies are bemoaning what they say is a lack of due process in the Democratic impeachment investigation -- but they often seem unable to effectively parry the damaging tidbits leaking out of depositions. Trump's defense is beginning to look insufficient: The President stuck to generalities on Tuesday. "We just hit the greatest economy we've ever had. 'Let's impeach the President' -- isn't that a good idea?" Trump said during an event with the Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues. "I wouldn't worry about it, fellas. I wouldn't worry about it," the President told several senators in the audience, referring to impeachment -- raising questions as to whether he understands the seriousness of his plight.
By Michael Warren and Evan Perez, CNN(CNN) - Rudy Giuliani will defy House Democrats' impeachment subpoena, a letter his attorney sent to Congress on Tuesday said.Jon Sale, Giuliani's attorney sent a letter to Congress informing them that Giuliani will not be providing documents that were requested by subpoena.The Office of Management and Budget also does not plan to turn over the documents that impeachment committees subpoenaed, a spokeswoman said, pointing to a letter earlier this month from White House counsel Pat Cipollone saying it speaks for OMB as well. The White House letter slammed the impeachment investigation as "constitutionally illegitimate" and made clear the administration does not plan to cooperate. Giuliani is also now parting ways with his personal attorney Jon Sale who has represented him in impeachment matters, Giuliani told CNN. Sale will stop representing the former New York City mayor shortly, Giuliani told CNN. Sale had been working for Giuliani after the House of Representatives subpoenaed Giuliani for documents related to the ongoing impeachment inquiry. "Jon was helping me with assessing (the) congressional request. He will submit his letter and he will be finished with what I asked him to do," Giuliani said. People close to Giuliani are advising him to hire a criminal lawyer as questions linger about his connections to two of his associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Furman, who were indicted last week for campaign-finance violations. Giuliani, who is President Donald Trump's personal attorney, has been resisting that advice, according to those people.
Key witnesses are ignoring Trump and delivering bombshell testimony in Democrats’ Ukraine investigation.By KYLE CHENEY and ANDREW DESIDERIODonald Trump's impeachment blockade has collapsed. The president's former top Russia adviser, Fiona Hill — the first White House official to cooperate in Democrats' investigation of the Ukraine scandal — has detailed for lawmakers a trail of alleged corruption that extends from Kyiv to the West Wing. In dramatic testimony on Monday, she roped in some of Trump's top advisers as witnesses to the unfolding controversy. And on Tuesday, a senior State Department official, George Kent, testified for nearly 10 hours about his knowledge of the episode despite an attempt by Trump administration lawyers to block him, according to a source working on the impeachment inquiry. The House Intelligence Committee issued a subpoena for his testimony Tuesday morning, and Kent, the deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs, complied. According to people familiar with his testimony, Kent told House impeachment investigators that he was alarmed at the role Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney, was playing in Ukraine. In particular, one lawmaker in the room said Kent was concerned because the president was apparently listening to Giuliani, who had mounted a months-long campaign to discredit Joe Biden on unfounded charges. “He was concerned at the undue influence a private attorney — not an official with the United States government and not someone charged with the responsibility of U.S. relations with Ukraine — was exerting, and that Giuliani was listening to discredited sources and had ties to some questionable characters in Ukraine, and nonetheless had the ear of the president,” Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) said in a brief interview as he emerged from Kent’s deposition. Kent’s appearance on Tuesday was just the latest evidence that the White House’s stonewalling against congressional requests for documents and testimony is crumbling — and Democrats now have a new sense of momentum.
White House directed ‘three amigos’ to run Ukraine policy, senior State department official tells House investigatorsBy Paul Kane, Karoun Demirjian and Rachael BadeActing White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney organized a meeting this spring in which officials were determined to take Ukraine policy out of the traditional channels, putting Energy Secretary Rick Perry, U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland and special U.S. envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker in charge instead, a top State Department official told lawmakers Tuesday. George Kent, the deputy assistant secretary of state responsible for Ukraine, told House investigators he was instructed to “lay low,” focus on the five other countries in his portfolio and defer to Volker, Sondland and Perry — who called themselves the “three amigos” — on matters related to Ukraine, Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.) told reporters Tuesday. Kent took that as a sign, Connolly added, that having been critical of the plan he was being pushed aside “because what he was saying was not welcome” at high levels of the government. Mulvaney’s meeting, which Kent told lawmakers took place on May 23, according to Connolly, was just days after the administration recalled Marie Yovanovitch from her post as U.S. ambassador to Ukraine. Yovanovitch spoke to House investigators last week about the campaign against her, which she and other former diplomats have said was organized by President Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani. The revelations from Kent’s testimony suggest the decision to wrest Ukraine policy away from career diplomats and put it in the hands of officials seen as more sympathetic to the president was taken several weeks before Trump spoke by phone with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. In their July 25 call, Trump appeared to pressure the Ukrainian leader to launch probes into the 2016 U.S. election and the son of 2020 Democratic presidential candidate and former vice president Joe Biden. Administration officials informed the Ukrainians of their decision to shift authority for Ukraine policy in June, according to two people familiar with Kent’s testimony. “For some Americans from the embassy, that was news to them,” he added. Perry, who was on Capitol Hill on Tuesday for an unrelated briefing, told reporters he “was involved in that [Ukraine policy] more than anybody. And I never saw or heard anything that was untoward, not by the president, not by anybody.” Kent spoke for several hours Tuesday in a closed-door meeting with the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees, which together are conducting an impeachment probe into whether Trump abused his office to pressure a foreign government into doing work that could affect the election. The longtime Foreign Service official had been summoned for a deposition in the investigation, with Democrats expected to question him about a campaign by Giuliani to pressure Ukraine into investigating the president’s political rival.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Pentagon said on Tuesday that it was unable to share documents with the House of Representative committee pursuing an impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump, citing “legal and practical concerns.” In a letter seen by Reuters, the Pentagon said the House of Representatives did not have a resolution authorizing an impeachment investigation, adding that it could not produce documents in the eight days it was given to comply with the subpoena.
By Julia ArcigaFormer Rep. Pete Sessions has been subpoenaed by a grand jury for materials related to his dealings with President Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and his associates. According to The Wall Street Journal, Sessions' subpoena is part of an investigation by Manhattan federal prosecutors into Giuliani's Ukrainian business dealings. The subpoena reportedly requests documents related to Giuliani's business in the country and his efforts to oust former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch. It also asks for records of interactions between himself, Giuliani, and Giuliani's associates who were recently indicted. There is reportedly no indication that Sessions is the target of the investigation. Last week, two of Giuliani's associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, were indicted for making illegal campaign donations to a certain congressman in what prosecutors say was a bid to have Yovanovitch removed from her post. Public records indicated the congressman in question was Sessions, and the former representative reportedly sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claiming that Yovanovitch was biased against Trump after he received a financial commitment from Parnas and Fruman. But he has denied any wrongdoing and said he was not aware of the “scheme” Parnas and Fruman are accused of. A spokesman for Sessions said the ex-congressman was cooperating with prosecutors and would be “providing documents to their office related to this matter over the next couple of weeks as requested.”
Giuliani’s $500,000 payout from Fraud Guarantee reveals the hypocrisy of his attacks on Hunter BidenGiuliani is staunchly opposed to cashing in on political connections — unless he’s doing it.By Aaron RuparFor months, Rudy Giuliani has played a leading role in the ongoing effort by President Donald Trump and his allies to gin up a scandal surrounding Hunter Biden’s business dealings in Ukraine. But new reporting about Giuliani’s own business dealings with shadowy Ukraine-linked figured shines a light on just how hypocritical his posturing has been. On Monday, both Reuters and the Washington Post reported that Giuliani received $500,000 from a company founded by a man at the center of a scheme to funnel foreign payments to Republican groups, including the pro-Trump super PAC “America First Action,” in 2018. The company in question has the unfortunate name of Fraud Guarantee and was founded by Lev Parnas, a Ukrainian American associate of Giuliani’s who was arrested with Igor Fruman (another Giuliani associate) last week. Both men were charged with making false disclosures related to hundreds of thousands of dollars of political contributions that were meant to conceal their foreign origins. As my colleague Andrew Prokop wrote, Parnas and Fruman are often described as “fixers” for Giuliani, and the three men collaborated in a successful effort to oust the then-US ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, amid the Trump administration’s efforts to cajole the new Ukrainian government to investigate the Bidens. Reuters reports that Fraud Guarantee marketed itself as helping clients “reduce and mitigate fraud,” but details surrounding the company remain murky. In interviews with the Post and Reuters, Giuliani insisted the payments he received for consulting and legal services did not originate from foreign sources — but he had a remarkably hard time explaining where else they might have come from. From Reuters:
Analysis by Stephen Collinson, CNNWashington (CNN) - Some of the White House's most senior foreign policy officials were trying to raise the alarm about the administration's potentially illegal activity in Ukraine well before President Donald Trump's now notorious call with his counterpart in Kiev, according to stunning new testimony in the impeachment inquiry. Fiona Hill, Trump's former top Russia adviser, said in a startling deposition Monday that then-national security adviser John Bolton told her to tip off White House lawyers about the activities of Giuliani and others, according to sources familiar with her testimony. Bolton's advice followed a meeting two weeks before the call between the two presidents on July 25, one source said. The detail suggests that senior figures inside Trump's White House were deeply concerned that the activities by the President and those close to him could reach the level of illegal behavior -- a potentially significant turn in the three-week-old impeachment inquiry by House Democrats. While it remains unclear whether Trump or his lawyer Rudy Giuliani did actually break the law in going around official channels to deal with Ukraine, much of the conduct now emerging at least appears unethical, off-the-books of regular diplomatic activity and more expansive than it initially appeared. On Tuesday, Giuliani's lawyer informed Congress the former New York City mayor will defy House Democrats' impeachment subpoena. The Office of Management and Budget also does not plan to turn over the documents that impeachment committees subpoenaed, a spokeswoman said. The new testimony could seriously challenge White House arguments that Trump did not abuse his power by asking a foreign leader for dirt on a domestic political foe: Joe Biden. It adds to a growing tapestry of evidence that suggests that the call between the US and Ukrainian Presidents and a whistleblower account of behind-the-scenes activity in the White House represents just the tip of the iceberg of what may have been going on. According to sources familiar with the testimony, Hill quoted Bolton as saying that Trump's lawyer, who was freelancing on Ukraine policy apparently at the President's request, was a "hand grenade" who was "going to blow everybody up." Bolton is now almost certain to be called as a witness -- a dangerous prospect for a President who ousted him after disagreements over North Korea and Russia policy. According to the sources familiar with Hill's testimony, she also said Bolton warned her that he would not get caught up in what he referred to as a "drug deal" being cooked up on Ukraine by US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland and White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney. Hill also testified that the public discord over issues like Ukraine sowed confusion about American policy and was the kind of corruption that the Russians could exploit, according to another source with knowledge of the testimony. Hill said "corruption is how Putin accesses our system," the source said, although the source did not specify to what exactly Hill was referring. Hill is a former intelligence official and Russia scholar who specializes in the Russian President. The new details were first reported by The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. Danger sign for the White House: The testimony of Hill, formerly senior director for Russian and European Affairs on the National Security Council, may also be a sign that the White House will not succeed in its effort to prevent all former officials from testifying as part of a strategy of blanket non-cooperation with the inquiry. In a letter to the White House counsel's office, Hill's lawyer rejected the idea that much of her testimony would be subject to executive privilege since many details of the affair were now public -- including Trump's call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on July 25 -- a rough transcript of which was released by the White House itself. And in an eye-opening warning, the lawyer, Lee Wolosky, cited precedent to the effect that privilege disappears if "government misconduct occurred," in an apparent suggestion of possible criminal activity within the White House. One source told CNN that Hill, a Trump appointee, saw "wrongdoing" in the White House approach to Ukraine and tried to report it to officials. Hill was concerned that Giuliani was circumventing the State Department to run what some Democrats have labeled a "shadow foreign policy" by seeking the removal of US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch and pushing for Ukraine to open an investigation into the former vice president and his son Hunter Biden. There is no evidence of wrongdoing in Ukraine by either Biden. Two of Giuliani's associates who helped to investigate Biden's role in Ukraine were arrested at Dulles Airport outside Washington last week as they tried to leave the country and were indicted on campaign finance charges. What makes Hill's testimony especially interesting is the fact that she was not on Trump's call with Zelensky on July 25. She had officially left her post by then. That means that her account relates to the period before the telephone call -- suggesting that the scheme to pressure Ukraine was much longer in the making than it first appeared.
Trump loyalist accused of being president’s ‘eyes and ears’ after crashing closed-door impeachment hearingFlorida Republican gets kicked out of meeting he was never supposed to be in at the first placeBy Chris Riott - independentA loyal supporter of Donald Trump has been removed from a closed-door impeachment hearing after House officials ruled he had no right to be there. Matt Gaetz, a Republican congressman from Florida, had attempted to crash a meeting put together by the House intelligence, foreign affairs and oversight committees — the official congressional panels spearheading an impeachment inquiry into the president. There was just one problem: Mr Gaetz does not serve on any of the three panels handling the inquiry. He was swiftly ejected from the room and stayed outside shortly after to complain to reporters about the situation. Mr Gaetz argued that, because the House judiciary committee, of which he is a member, has previously led impeachment enquiries, he should have been allowed in the room. “It’s not like I’m on agriculture,” Mr Gaetz said. “What are the Democrats so afraid of?” The Republican congressman was attempting to enter the closed-door hearing with Fiona Hill, Mr Trump’s British-born former top aide on Russia and ex-deputy assistant to the president. Mr Gaetz has repeatedly called for an end to the impeachment inquiry, and on Monday was roundly mocked on Twitter for trying to crash the meeting. Renato Mariotti, a former federal prosecutor, tweeted: “I suspect there is concern that Gaetz entered the room to be Trump’s eyes and ears.” Elie Honig, another former federal prosecutor, said: “This is a mob tactic - send a tough guy into the courtroom to glare at the witness.” “I’ve seen much tougher guys than Gaetz do it,” he added. As the former prosecutor noted, Mr Gaetz previously tweeted a seemingly threatening message to Mr Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen the night before he was set to testify before the House oversight committee. “Hey @MichaelCohen212 – Do your wife & father-in-law know about your girlfriends? Maybe tonight would be a good time for that chat,” he wrote at the time. “I wonder if she’ll remain faithful when you’re in prison. She’s about to learn a lot.” The House ethics committee later launched an investigation into incendiary tweets he posted about the president’s former attorney. He later apologised and was cleared of wrongdoing by the Florida bar. Ms Hill was testifying before the House panels surrounding Mr Trump’s phone call with Ukraine, which sparked allegations of the president abusing his power by seeking foreign aid in his 2020 re-election efforts. A memorandum of a phone call between Mr Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky showed Mr Trump requesting a “favour” from Mr Zelensky before discussing one of his political rivals, Joe Biden, a 2020 contender for the White House. The memorandum shows Mr Trump urging Mr Zelensky to launch an investigation into Mr Biden and his son, Hunter, despite there being no evidence of wrongdoing by either of them.
CBS This Morning - We're learning about former National Security Adviser John Bolton's alarm over the Trump administration's Ukraine policy. Bolton reportedly wanted White House lawyers to be alerted in July when he learned about efforts to pressure Ukraine. Bolton's former aide, Fiona Hill, testified Monday before House impeachment investigators. Nancy Cordes reports.
CNN - A source tells CNN that Fiona Hill, President Donald Trump's former top Russia adviser, testified that former national security adviser John Bolton referred to Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani as a "hand grenade" who was "going to blow everybody up," as first reported by The New York Times.
By Jessica CampisiPresident Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani said he was paid $500,000 for his work at a company co-founded by an associate who was arrested on campaign finance charges. Giuliani told Reuters that Fraud Guarantee, Lev Parnas’s Boca Raton, Fla.-based company, took on Giuliani Partners as a management and security consulting firm around August 2018. Giuliani was hired to consult with the company and provide legal advice. Giuliani also said he received two payments within weeks of each other but did not say when they were made. Parnas, a Ukraine-born businessman, was one of two Giuliani associates who helped the former New York City mayor in efforts to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden. House Democrats launched an impeachment inquiry after revelations that Trump pressured his Ukrainian counterpart to investigate Biden, a leading Democratic presidential candidate, and his son. The latest development comes after The New York Times noted last week that Parnas told associates he paid Giuliani hundreds of thousands of dollars for his work. Parnas and Igor Fruman, another Florida-based businessman, were arrested last Wednesday at Dulles International Airport with one-way international tickets. They arrests came hours after they had lunch with Giuliani at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C.
Analysis by Ronald Brownstein(CNN) - President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly shattered political tradition, may find himself in another unprecedented circumstance in 2020: He could become the first president ever to be impeached by the House and then seek another term in the next election. That unique prospect could scramble the electoral calculations next year for both parties. For Trump, an impeachment confrontation that highlights the aspects of his presidency that most concern swing voters -- from his volatility to his willingness to skirt if not smash legal constraints -- could force him further toward a 2020 strategy centered on maximizing turnout among his core supporters. For Democrats, a bitter impeachment fight that divides Congress and the country almost entirely among party lines could upset one of the key underlying assumptions driving the competition for the party's presidential nomination: While most Democratic primary voters appear focused primarily on finding the nominee they believe will most effectively take the fight to Trump, a searing impeachment struggle could create more public demand for a candidate who pledges to bring the country together, some operatives in both parties believe. Candidates will have their first chance to address the impeachment inquiry on the debate stage since it was announced during the CNN/New York Times debate Tuesday in Ohio. As impeachment proceeds, the division in the country "is going to go into the stratosphere," predicts Charles Coughlin, a veteran Republican political strategist based in Phoenix. "Which I think creates an opportunity for a candidate ... to fill that narrative: We have to start talking about what brings us together and not what pushes us apart. I think there will be giant pieces of room in the electorate, both Republican and Democratic, to articulate that notion." Uncharted territory: One thing that's clear already is that if the House votes to impeach Trump -- and the Senate does not reach the two-thirds majority required to remove him from office -- the nation will face a novel political situation in 2020. None of the previous three presidents who faced a serious impeachment threat appeared on the next general election ballot. Richard Nixon retreated into exile in San Clemente and never again sought public office after he resigned in August 1974. His resignation came after the House Judiciary Committee approved articles of impeachment against him over Watergate with bipartisan support, and leading Senate Republicans told him his support in that chamber was crumbling. Bill Clinton finished his second term as President but was barred by the Constitution's two-term limit from running again in 2000. The Republican-controlled House voted to impeach him in 1998 but the Senate fell well short of the votes needed to remove him over the perjury charges that emerged from his affair with a White House intern. Only Andrew Johnson, among the presidents facing impeachment, sought to run again after his ordeal, though he failed to secure the nomination. Abraham Lincoln, the first Republican president, picked Johnson, a pro-Union Democrat from the border state of Tennessee, as his vice president in 1864 to create a national "unity" ticket. But after Lincoln was assassinated in 1865 and Johnson ascended to the presidency, he reverted to his roots in a Democratic Party that, at the time, was much more sympathetic to the South and hostile to the rights of freed slaves. Johnson repeatedly tried to stymie the agenda of the Republican House and Senate majorities to ensure rights for the freed slaves and eliminate Confederate influence in the Southern states rejoining the Union. After an escalating series of confrontations and vetoes, the House in March 1868 impeached Johnson on a party-line vote; all Republicans who voted backed impeachment and all voting Democrats opposed it. The Senate then fell one vote short of removing Johnson from office in May, just months before the 1868 election. All Senate Democrats and seven Republicans voted to acquit him on the impeachment charges, which centered on his defiance of a law the Republican majorities passed to prevent him from dismissing executive branch officials without congressional approval.
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