EVENT ENDED

Analysis after Gordon Sondland, Laura Cooper and David Hale's impeachment testimony

Image: Day 4 of Impeachment hearings with Laura Cooper and Gordon Sondland
Chelsea Stahl / NBC News

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The fourth day of public hearings in the House's impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump saw testimony from three Trump administration officials.

Laura Cooper, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia, and David Hale, undersecretary of state for political affairs, testified before the House Intelligence Committee at just before 6 p.m. ET Wednesday. Their appearance followed testimony from U.S. ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, who appeared before the committee for a hearing that began more than eight hours earlier.

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Lawmakers read along with Sondland, with the exception of Nunes

Both Democratic and Republican members appeared to be reading along as Sondland read his statement. The exclusion was Nunes who was mostly looking straight ahead and sometimes talking to his counsel, Castor, sitting to his left. Castor was following along the opening statement. You could see him flipping through the packet when it's time to turn a page.

Schiff emphasizing key points made by Sondland

Schiff is using his questions, presumably, to bring attention to key points from Sondland’s opening statement. 

Schiff referred to the “quid pro quo” mentioned by Sondland involving a White House meeting for Zelenskiy in exchange for the launching of investigations by Ukraine into Burisma and the 2016 election.

Schiff also mentioned Sondland’s statement that Mulvaney, Pompeo and others were all aware of these conditions.

“Correct,” Sondland replied each time.

Sondland failed to bring up his call with Trump during deposition. He confirmed it today.

Sondland confirmed Wednesday that he did speak with Trump by phone at a restaurant in Kyiv the day after the Trump-Zelenskiy phone call. 

This was a key admission; he did not mention this phone call during his closed-door deposition on Oct. 17, when he appeared under subpoena. 

“I spoke by phone with President Trump. The White House, which has finally shared certain call dates and times with my attorneys, confirms this,” Sondland said Wednesday. 

Sondland said that the phone call lasted five minutes and he recalled that he was at a restaurant. Responding to the testimony by David Holmes, a foreign service officer at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, about that phone call, which Holmes said he overheard, Sondland said, “I have no reason to doubt that this conversation included the subject of investigations.”

“Other witnesses have recently shared their recollection of overhearing this call. For the most part, I have no reason to doubt their accounts,” Sondland added.

Sondland said he can’t remember precise details of the conversation — which occurred during a lunch attended by Holmes and two other State Department staffers — and that the White House “has not allowed me to see any readouts of that call.” 

This comes after Bill Taylor, the top diplomat in Ukraine, testified last week and revealed information regarding this phone call for the first time, after Holmes had told him about it during the week prior. 

Holmes testified about this phone call in a closed-door deposition Friday and will testify about it publicly on Thursday. 

FBI seeks to interview the whistleblower

The FBI has asked to interview the CIA whistleblower whose complaint touched off the Ukraine impeachment investigation, a source directly familiar with the matter told NBC News.

The whistleblower has not yet agreed to an interview, the source said.

The FBI request was first reported by Yahoo News, which said that some FBI officials were disturbed that the Justice Department declined to investigate the whistleblower's complaint after a criminal referral was sent over from the inspector general of the intelligence community.

Read the story.

Is Trump watching the Sondland testimony?

Where's the president this morning, and is he watching the impeachment hearing?

"He has calls and meetings as always, but I'm sure he will catch some of it in between," said White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham. "And of course he departs here in about an hour to head to Texas."

Trump is traveling to Austin for a visit to the Apple plant there.

The ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, takes his seat to testify before the House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday. Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

Sondland reads opening statement

Sondland is reading his explosive opening statement word for word. 

Nunes: Sondland here 'to be smeared'

Ranking member Devin Nunes, R-Calif., bashed Democrats and their inquiry in his opening statement, calling it another day "of this circus.” 

Nunes accused Democrats of “exploiting the Intelligence Committee” and said that “no conspiracy theory is too outlandish for the Democrats.”

“You have to give them points for selling this absurdity as an impeachment offense,” Nunes said. 

Nunes also said that Gordon Sondland, U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, was testifying at the hearing “to be smeared” — not addressing any of the issues raised in Sondland's opening statement.

Nunes added that Republicans -- who don’t have the power to issue subpoenas -- requested that Democrats subpoena Hunter Biden and the whistleblower for closed-door depositions.

Lawmakers give initial reactions to Sondland's blockbuster testimony

Rep. Denny Heck, D-Wash., told me he read Sondland’s statement and that it’s good “anytime more of the truth comes out.”

“Kaboom,” he added.

Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill., told NBC News congressional reporter Alex Moe that as he skimmed his opening just now his eyes “kept getting wider and wider.”

Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., said she’s trying “to focus on the substance.”