Rick Perry 'happy to' talk to lawmakers once they abide by 'precedent'

Outgoing Energy Secretary Rick Perry told reporters outside the White House on Wednesday that he would “be happy to come forward” to talk to House Democrats leading the impeachment inquiry if “they follow the precedent, when they follow what has been referred to me as the precedent of an inquiry.”

“But the fact is, I’m not going to participate, the White House has advised us not to participate, my general counsel has told me not to participate in what they consider to be an unprecedented effort to try to use an inquiry in an unlawful way,” Perry said.

Perry, whom Democrats have subpoenaed for documents related to Trump and Ukraine, suggested in a Fox Business interview Wednesday that abiding by precedent included holding a vote on the impeachment inquiry — something House Republicans have demanded but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has said is not required.

Perry, who announced last week that he will step down, has emerged as a central figure in Trump’s efforts to get Ukraine to open an investigation into the Biden family and the 2016 election. The energy secretary was one of a cadre of officials — including now-former special envoy for Ukraine Kurt Volker, Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, and Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani — who ran an “irregular” channel of U.S. policymaking on the country, according to acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor’s testimony Tuesdaybefore the House committees leading the impeachment inquiry.

Energy Secretary Rick Perry testifies before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee during a hearing on the President's budget request for Fiscal Year 2020, Tuesday, April 2, 2019.Patrick Semansky / AP file

Schumer says GOP 'conspiracy conjuring needs to stop'

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-NY, appeared in a policy lunch stakeout and said that the two articles of impeachment against President Trump — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress — demand that all senators “put country over party and examine the evidence uncovered by the House without prejudice, without partisanship.”

Schumer also criticized Republican lawmakers who have pushed the debunked theory that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election.

“The conspiracy conjuring needs to stop,” Schumer said.

He also said that for the Democrats in the Senate running for president that their presence for a potential impeachment trial “has to come first,” and that “scheduling concerns are secondary to doing this the right way.”

Pence says Trump is 'standing strong'

Vice President Pence stopped by a diner in Pennsylvania and was asked by a guest how the president was "holding up." 

"He's just standing strong," Pence said. "Look at it today, they're going to announce we got a trade deal done, going to the floor of the Congress — USMCA. Before the end of the day here, we got a defense bill done with a pay raise for our troops." 

"He's a believer, he's a believer," said Pence, who added: "He really is the real deal." 

He also ordered a Reuben sandwich. 

 

Grassley says Senate will do its duty 'with fairness and clear eyes'

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-IA, said on Tuesday that the "Democrats’ desire to overturn the 2016 election by impeaching President Trump has been abundantly clear since before he took the oath of office. But try as they might, they’ve struggled to arrive at a charge that can stand up to scrutiny.”

“If the House decides to move forward, the Senate will do its constitutional duty with fairness and clear eyes, not blind partisanship,” Grassley's statement said. 

McConnell talks timeline

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY, opened up the GOP leadership presser saying that the Senate will not be able to process the USMCA this year, saying it will have to wait until after the impeachment trial.

Asked when the Senate might reconvene in the New Year, McConnell didn't answer directly. He joked that it would be shortly after the college football bowl games end. 

The National Championship game is Jan. 13. 

Bill Clinton says Americans should go about their lives

Former President Bill Clinton, no stranger to impeachment, said: "Congress is doing what they believe is right." 

"The American people will see it is true and what should be done with it, and the rest of us should go about our lives. They should do their job and I'll do mine." 

It's 'pretty clear the president wants a trial': White House spokesman

Speaking to reporters on the White House driveway, Hogan Gidley said it's "pretty clear the president wants a trial" in the Senate and that Trump would want it to take place "sooner rather than later."

He noted the White House and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's teams are in "constant contact," but that he's not at liberty to disclose details of the conversations. 

Asked if they’re concerned about Republicans turning against the president, Gidley said “not at this point.”

Read the full text of the articles of impeachment

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., on Tuesday announced the introduction of two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump.

Read the full text of the articles here:

 

'Surreal': Michelle Obama on impeachment hearings

 

Mulvaney: 'Politics can and should influence foreign policy'

WASHINGTON — Acting White House chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said Tuesday that the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump "should surprise nobody."

"That's what this was going to be from the very beginning anyway," he said at a Wall Street Journal event minutes after House Democrats publicly announced the two articles. "Keep in mind, I think it's 16 members of the House Democrat Judiciary panel had already voted in favor of impeachment before this process started."

He added that "politics can and should influence foreign policy, and hopefully always will."

When asked if he would testify in a Senate trial, Mulvaney said part of him "really wants to."

 

"We'll do whatever the president wants us to do is what it comes down to, so if the Senate decides to take live witnesses and the president directs us to do it, we will. If he directs us not to, we won't," he said.  

He would not respond directly to questions about U.S. Ambassador to the E.U. Gordon Sondland's claim in November testimony that Mulvaney knew of alleged wrongdoing by the president.

"I'm not going to testify here today, but I will remind everybody of what Sondland said, which is that he very rarely talked to me and he couldn't get me on the phone," Mulvaney said.

White House calls it a 'sham impeachment'

From White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham: 

"Today, in a baseless and partisan attempt to undermine a sitting President, Speaker Pelosi and House Democrats announced the pre-determined outcome of their sham impeachment — something they have been seeking since before President Trump was inaugurated.

“House Democrats have long wanted to overturn the votes of 63 million Americans.  They have determined that they must impeach President Trump because they cannot legitimately defeat him at the ballot box. The Democrats’ use of a phone call with the president of Ukraine – with a transcript the President himself released — served as their excuse for this partisan, gratuitous, and pathetic attempt to overthrow the Trump Administration and the results of the 2016 election.

“The announcement of two baseless articles of impeachment does not hurt the President, it hurts the American people, who expect their elected officials to work on their behalf to strengthen our Nation. The President will address these false charges in the Senate and expects to be fully exonerated, because he did nothing wrong.

“Ultimately, Speaker Pelosi and House Democrats will have to answer to their constituents for manufacturing an impeachment inquiry and forcing unfounded accusations down the throats of the American people. Today, and every day, the President will continue to work on behalf of this country and will not be deterred by the rank partisan political acts of the Democrat Party."

'Ridiculous': Trump reacts to articles of impeachment

Almost an hour after two articles of impeachment were announced, Trump first tweeted his common refrain: "WITCH HUNT!" 

Then he followed up by calling the idea he pressured Ukraine "ridiculous." 

Within minutes, he tweeted two more times, once with an attack on House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff, and another in which he claimed the “us” he mentioned during the July phone call with Zelenskiy where he asked for a favor "is a reference to USA, not me!"