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Analysis after Fiona Hill and David Holmes' impeachment testimony

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Thursday marked the fifth day of public hearings in the House's impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, featuring testimony from one current and one former Trump administration official.

Fiona Hill, a former top Russia expert for the White House, and David Holmes, a senior diplomat at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine, testified at a hearing before the House Intelligence Committee which started around 9 a.m. ET and, after a lengthy break for some House votes, ended around 4 p.m. ET.

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Bolton testimony before the House? Very unlikely

The testimony of Fiona Hill and Gordon Sondland has revived chatter about John Bolton appearing before the Intelligence Committee as part of the impeachment inquiry. But the reality of that actually happening is close to zero.

Committee member Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., told NBC News on Thursday that the only thing that "would inspire Bolton to talk is his $2 or $3 million book deal. He’s saying he’s got to have a lawyer tell him whether he comes, but apparently he’s already signed a book deal to tell what he knows, not the Congress." Welch added that he doesn’t think anything will convince Bolton to come in.

Pelosi said in her press conference that people who haven’t complied with requests from the House could perhaps appear in the Senate trial if it gets to that point, which strongly suggests that the House will not press Bolton to appear and won’t wait on the courts to decide if he must appear.

The committee requested Bolton’s appearance but won’t issue him a subpoena, which they think he’d use to take them to court like Kupperman did.

Schiff reconvenes hearing after break for votes

Schiff gaveled in the hearing at 1:01 p.m. after about an hour break for votes. Nunes has started on GOP questioning.

What happens next in the impeachment inquiry?

Here’s a quick rundown of what to expect over the next few weeks:

Members of Congress depart Washington later Thursday for the Thanksgiving break and will return on Dec. 3.

We expect the Intelligence Committee next week will pore over the tapestry of evidence and testimony they’ve stitched together and report out the findings.

The Committee has not announced any additional public hearings or private depositions. That could, of course, change.

The report then heads to the House Judiciary Committee, which has responsibility for drafting articles of impeachment. The Judiciary Committee could hold its own public hearings, which would potentially feature constitutional experts and historians as opposed to fact witnesses. House leadership would help guide those proceedings.

The Judiciary Committee would then vote potential articles of impeachment out of committee, sending them to the House for a full floor vote.

While the timeline is fluid, Democrats have signaled for months that they hope to complete this process by the end of the year.

 

Hill testimony may satisfy need for Bolton testimony

McFaul: Hill's testimony is 'very damning for the president of the United States'

'Evidence is clear': Pelosi says hearings show Trump used office for personal gain

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Thursday after three days of impeachment hearings this week that the "evidence is clear" that President Donald Trump has used his office "for his own personal gain."

Pelosi told reporters that lawmakers had "no choice" but to act after they observed what she called a violation of the Constitution by the president.

"The evidence is clear that the president has used his office for his own personal gain and in doing so undermined the national security of the United States by withholding military assistance to the Ukraine, to the benefit of the Russians," Pelosi said.

Read the story.

White House seizes on Hill's point that Russia seeks to undermine presidency

Trump hosting lunch with senators who declined to condemn impeachment

Trump invited Sens. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, and Susan Collins, R-Maine, and others to lunch at the White House on Thursday — breaking bread with Republicans who could go against him in a Senate impeachment trial.

Romney and Collins are two of only three Senate Republicans who declined to sign on as co-sponsors to a GOP resolution denouncing the House Democrats' impeachment inquiry, raising questions about how they would vote in a Senate trial to convict and remove Trump from office. The other Republican not to sign on is Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, another moderate vote who could break from the party.

Collins has said that it would be "inappropriate" for her "to reach conclusions about evidence or to comment on the proceedings in the House" because she will be expected to be essentially a juror once the Senate trial begins.

Romney has been more critical of Trump, tweeting earlier this month: "By all appearances, the President's brazen and unprecedented appeal to China and to Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden is wrong and appalling."

Read more here.

Hearing breaks for House votes

The hearing has broken for House votes, which are expected to take about an hour, so the committee will reconvene at about 12:30 p.m. at the earliest. 

Trump campaign spokesman weighs in