Excerpts from McKinley's opening statement
Below are excerpts from the opening statement made to Congress today by former Ambassador Michael McKinley, who recently resigned as Pompeo’s senior adviser, according to a former colleague familiar with the testimony:
"The timing of my resignation was the result of two overriding concerns: the failure, in my view, of the State Department to offer support to Foreign Service employees caught up in the Impeachment Inquiry on Ukraine; and, second, by what appears to be the utilization of our ambassadors overseas to advance domestic political objectives.
I was disturbed by the implication that foreign governments were being approached to procure negative information on political opponents. I was convinced that this would also have a serious impact on foreign service morale and the integrity of our work overseas.
Since I began my career in 1982, I have served my country and every President loyally. Under current circumstances, however, I could no longer look the other way as colleagues are denied the professional support and respect they deserve from us all."
Top State Department aide resigned because of Pompeo's silence on Marie Yovanovitch
Michael McKinley, the former top adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, told Congressional impeachment investigators that his sudden resignation was, in part, due to Pompeo’s silence about the recall of Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, according to two people in the room for McKinley’s testimony.
After a phone call between President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in which the president disparaged Yovanovitch, McKinley asked Pompeo to write a "statement of support" for the former ambassador, but Pompeo remained silent, McKinley told Congressional investigators, according to a person in the room.
Trump called her "bad news" and sad that her "attitude towards me was far from the best” in a July 25 phone call with Zelenskiy, according to an abridged transcript released by the White House.
According to the person in the room, McKinley painted a picture of a State Department that was rebuilding after the tenure of the previous secretary of state, Rex Tillerson. But McKinley said that it disturbed him that officials working on Ukraine were being sidelined because of political pressures, according to a source in the room and a person familiar with his testimony.
He also cited a State Department inspector general report in August that found political appointees mistreated and intimidated civil servants in the Bureau of International Organization Affairs, according to a person familiar with his testimony.
Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., said that McKinley in his testimony expressed strong support of his colleague Yovanovitch. "And that’s understandable," Meadows said.
At the time of his resignation, McKinley was a veteran State Department official, whose 37-year career included posts in Brazil, Afghanistan, Colombia and Peru.
Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., said that McKinley is one of several witnesses who is "helping to fill in the portrait of an official State Department process that was under attack basically by Trump and Giuliani."
McConnell talks impeachment trial
WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., went into detail Wednesday on how a Senate trial would go if the House impeaches President Donald Trump.
“Under the impeachment rules of the Senate, we will take the matter up,” McConnell said at a weekly leadership news conference following a closed-door luncheon with Senate Republicans. “The chief justice will be in the chair. We will have to convene every day, six days out of seven at 12:30 or one o'clock in the afternoon. Senators will not be allowed to speak, which should be good therapy for a number of them. And we intend to do our constitutional responsibility.”
The Constitution provides the Senate with the power to try impeachments, acting as a court to consider evidence, hear witnesses and determine whether the impeached person should be convicted. A two-thirds vote of the Senate — 67 members — is required for conviction. Democrats, who have 47 members, would have a lot of convincing to do among Republicans, most of whom are defending the president, to reach that threshold.
McConnell claimed earlier in the news conference that House Democrats are “denying due process to the president,” which he said could be fixed if the House voted on the opening of the impeachment inquiry. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., however, made clear Tuesday night that she doesn’t plan to hold a vote given that the investigation is already underway.
Today in The Inquiry: McKinley testifies
Michael McKinley, who recently resigned as senior adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, testified to Congress on Wednesday as part of the House impeachment inquiry. Republicans have roundly criticized House Democrats for what they say is a secret process being carried out behind closed doors. What's happening behind the scenes? NBC News correspondent Geoff Bennett, NBC News national political reporter Josh Lederman and Washington Post White House reporter Ashley Parker join Katy Tur to discuss.
House Democrats ask U.S. ambassador to Ukraine to appear for questioning
Acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor left Kyiv, Ukraine on Wednesday for Washington D.C. after House Democrats requested he appear for a Tuesday deposition in the investigation into President Trump’s alleged misconduct involving Ukraine, NBC News has confirmed.
In a packet of text messages released by House Democrats last week, Taylor on Sept. 9 remarked that it would be “crazy” to link Ukraine military assistance to help with Trump’s political campaign, something that was hinted at in the messages. "I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign," Taylor said in a text.
Nearly five hours later, Sondland — a Republican donor who has no experience in diplomacy or foreign policy, responded after speaking with the president, writing, "Bill, I believe you are incorrect about President Trump’s intentions. The President has been crystal clear no quid pro quo's of any kind.”
Read more on what Democrats are hoping to learn from Taylor here.
Romney says Trump administration should respond to congressional subpoenas
WASHINGTON — Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, told NBC News Wednesday that the Trump administration "needs to respond appropriately to subpoenas."
"I’m not going to get between the White House and the House as to that process, but it is essential that people respond to subpoenas that come from Congress," Romney said, responding to a question about the issue on Capitol Hill.
This comes as Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, defied demands from Congress yesterday to turn over documents relating to Ukraine. In a Tuesday letter to the chairmen of the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said that he will not comply with a subpoena related to House Democrats' impeachment inquiry.
Vice President Mike Pence, while not subpoenaed, also rejected congressional requests for documents.
Romney, who most recently condemned the president on Twitter for his “brazen and unprecedented appeal to China and to Ukraine," was one of the first Republican senators to denounce Trump's call on foreign governments to investigate his political opponents.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper will no longer comply with impeachment inquiry
Defense Secretary Mark Esper will not comply with a subpoena from House Democrats related to their impeachment inquiry, according to a letter sent Tuesday to Democratic leadership from the Department of Defense.
In the letter to the chairmen of the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees, the Pentagon cites a “number of legal and practical concerns” as their reason for not complying. They include the House not officially voting to authorize an impeachment inquiry and that some of the information the House is requesting “appears to consist of confidential Executive Branch communications that are potentially protected by executive privilege.”
Read more here.
White House conducting review of Trump Ukraine call
A senior administration official confirms that the White House is conducting an internal review of the process surrounding that July 25th phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
The New York Times first reported the review and adds that it’s centering in on why a deputy White House counsel, John Eisenberg, "placed a rough transcript of the call in a computer system typically reserved for the country’s most closely guarded secrets."
Conservatives head to Capitol secure area to try to read Volker transcript
Members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus on Wednesday tried to view a transcript of the closed-door deposition earlier this month with former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker in a classified area on Capitol Hill.
Freedom Caucus Chairman Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., tweeted a photo of him and some of his colleagues heading to that area.
Rep. Roger Marshall, R-Kansas, told reporters that they were not able to see the transcript — though he said they were told Tuesday that they would be able to read it at noon — and are waiting for staff.
Volker made an unexpected return to the hill Wednesday morning to review the transcript of his more than nine-hour testimony before three House congressional committees on October 3. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., told reporters Tuesday that Democrats would eventually make transcripts of the depositions public.
Fourth man arrested on illegal foreign donation charges
Two senior law enforcement officials say that David Correia, one of the four people indicted in an alleged scheme to funnel foreign money and violate FEC laws, was taken into custody after arriving at New York's JFK airport this morning.
Correia and another man were charged last week along with Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman in a scheme to "circumvent the federal laws against foreign influence," according to court documents.
Parnas and Fruman, who are associates of Rudy Giuliani, were previously taken into custody, along with a fourth man, Andrew Kukushkin.
Law enforcement officials say that Parnas and Fruman had booked a one-way ticket to Europe and were taken into custody at Dulles airport.