State official Kent testified he raised concerns about Hunter Biden's Burisma role
State Department official George Kent told House investigators this week that he raised concerns in 2015 about the appearance of a conflict of interest about Hunter Biden, the son of then-Vice President Joe Biden, serving on the board of a Ukrainian energy company, but was ultimately rebuffed by a Biden aide, two sources familiar with the matter told NBC News. Kent did not provide the name of the Biden aide during his closed-door testimony, one source said.
The Washington Post first reported on Kent's concerns. The Wall Street Journal also reports that Kent told investigators, “Regardless of whether anything is wrong, it looks terrible.”
The general view from Biden world about the reporting is that a State Department official flagging concerns about Hunter Biden’s role in Ukraine wouldn’t be unusual since there were contemporaneous reports and public op-eds written at the time about the “optics issues” resulting from his position with Burisma. For example, a New Yorker profile of Hunter Biden recently noted how his decision to take the board seat was met with unease at State and elsewhere in the Obama administration.
“Several former officials in the Obama administration and at the State Department insisted that Hunter’s role at Burisma had no effect on his father’s policies in Ukraine, but said that, nevertheless, Hunter should not have taken the board seat," the magazine's Adam Entous wrote. "As the former senior White House aide put it, there was a perception that 'Hunter was on the loose, potentially undermining his father’s message.’"
Krishnamoorthi: 'Sondland definitely pointed to Giuliani as engaging in some suspect activities'
Perry won't say whether he'll meet House subpoena deadline
Outgoing Energy Secretary Rick Perry, asked in media interviews Friday morning whether he would meet impeachment investigators' deadline to hand over documents related to Ukraine, said only that he would follow the advice of the department's general counsel.
"Whatever their decision will be, I'll follow that," he told Fox News.
Perry also elaborated on his announcement yesterday that he will be resigning effective later this year, stating that "it has absolutely nothing to do with Ukraine" and that his relationship with President Donald Trump remains "awesome."
In an interview on The Brian Kilmeade Show, Perry also addressed the Friday subpoena deadline, and said, "we'll be responding on time, today, and I will follow the advice of my lawyers at the Department of Energy."
Deadline looms for White House chief of staff to hand over documents
Friday marks the deadline for Mick Mulvaney, the White House acting chief of staff, to hand over documents relating to the July 25 phone call between President Donald Trump and President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and other documents sought by the impeachment inquiry.
The White House has said it won't comply with the investigation and Mulvaney is not expected to comply with the subpoena.
Friday is also the deadline for Energy Secretary Rick Perry to hand over documents. Perry said Thursday he would resign by the end of the year.
Democratic lawmaker concerned that Sondland 'has been less than truthful'
E.U. Ambassador Gordon Sondland isn’t filling in as many gaps as lawmakers would have hoped, telling House committees that he can’t recall various details surrounding the Ukraine scandal, according to three sources present for parts of his ongoing testimony Thursday.
"A lot of memory lapses," said one lawmaker who was in the room.
As she emerged from the closed door deposition with Sondland, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fl., told NBC News that, "I'm concerned that he has been less than truthful throughout the day."
"I mean some of the things that he says he doesn't remember, it would be very hard to believe that he didn't remember, I mean very specific things that, you know, are unique to different situations that they've discussed throughout the day. And unless has the worst memory. Or, and is, you know, far more far more incompetent than than one would think an ambassador to the European Union should be," she said.
Yet two of the sources described Sondland as eager to distance himself from other players, especially Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani.
Sondland framed his contact with Giuliani as "very minimal" said a second lawmaker who said "Sondland was "walking a tightrope" in revealing information advantageous to himself but not recalling other details.
The lawmakers said his testimony did not appear designed to harm President Donald Trump so much as to insulate Sondland from the scandal.
New poll: 54% support House's decision to open impeachment inquiry
A new poll from the Pew Research Center finds that a majority — 54 percent — of American adults approve of the House’s decision to begin an impeachment inquiry, while 44 percent disapprove.
The same poll found that a 58 percent majority says Trump definitely or probably has done things that are “grounds for impeachment.”
And it showed a lack of confidence in both parties when it comes to handling the impeachment inquiry. Fifty-seven percent say they are not confident that Republicans in Congress will be fair and reasonable during the inquiry, while 52 percent say the same of Democrats.
The Pew survey questioned a panel of respondents, which allows for re-asking the same questions to the same people at different points in time. Overall, nine percent of adults who opposed the impeachment proceedings early last month now approve of the House’s decision to open the inquiry.
Of that nine percent, 61 percent are Democrats or independents who lean toward the Democratic Party, while 32 percent are Republicans or independents who lean toward the Republican Party.
Mulvaney acknowledges Trump held up Ukraine aid partly for political reasons
Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney on Thursday acknowledged that President Donald Trump held up aid to Ukraine partly over a debunked conspiracy theory involving the 2016 election.
"We do that all the time," he told reporters at a rare briefing.
"Get over it. There's going to be political influence in foreign policy," he added. The question of whether the assistance was held up for political reasons is at the heart of House Democrats' impeachment inquiry.
Pelosi says she has 'no idea' about impeachment timetable. She's not alone.
It is anyone's guess when the impeachment process might conclude.
The House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees have another full week of closed-door depositions lined up and there could be more to come. Intel Chairman Adam Schiff has said he also intends to hold open hearings.
Only then would action shift to the House Judiciary Committee, which would take up the work of the investigative committees, likely hold its own hearings, mark up and vote on the article(s). In past impeachments, the mark-up alone has taken several days. Only then would the full House debate the articles, then vote.
"Everyone that I talk to would like this to be done in 2019," Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin, a member of the Oversight Vommittee, told reporters on Wednesday. "The problem is that the president is a one-man crime wave, and he's generated a number of arguably impeachable offenses, and we have a responsibility to research those."
Speaker Nancy Pelosi was even more blunt on Thursday when asked about the timeline: "I have no idea...The path, the timeline, will depend on the truth-line."
If and when any articles are sent to the Senate, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters Wednesday he would act on them quickly.
A Christmas conclusion to the impeachment process is clearly on the mind of senators — for whom few things sharpen the mind more than the prospect of getting home for a holiday recess.
Bottom line? Don't make holiday plans yet.