Pentagon official to give evidence on Ukraine military aid at closed hearing
House investigators expect Laura Cooper, deputy assistant secretary of defense, to on Wednesday offer insight about the White House decision to withhold military aid to Ukraine, despite the Pentagon's recommendation that it proceed.
Cooper, a top Pentagon career official overseeing Ukraine policy, will appear at a closed-door hearing even though the Defense Department told Congress that it would not comply with House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry.
Michael Duffey, a politically appointed official in the White House budget office, who oversees the process for approving and releasing foreign aid, is not expected to appear as scheduled today after the Office of Management and Budget acting director Russ Vought said the office would not cooperate with the impeachment probe.
Six highlights from Ukraine envoy Bill Taylor's 'explosive' testimony
President Donald Trump’s top diplomat to Ukraine testified Tuesday in a closed-door deposition to members of Congress in the House's impeachment inquiry, and his remarkable 15-page statement raised serious concerns about Trump's denials of a quid pro quo.
Bill Taylor wrote in the statement delivered to Congress that "there appeared to be two channels of U.S. policy-making and implementation, one regular and one highly irregular," and that it became clear to him that a freeze in U.S. aid to Ukraine was tied to a probe into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.
Read six of the statement's most astonishing scenes described in Taylor's testimony here.
Sen. Lindsey Graham plans Senate resolution to condemn House impeachment inquiry
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham says that he will introduce a resolution in the Senate to condemn the Democrat-led impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump in the House of Representatives.
"This resolution puts the Senate on record condemning the House. ... We cannot allow future presidents, and this president, to be impeached based on an inquiry in the House that's never been voted upon," Graham, R-S.C. told Fox News' Sean Hannity on Tuesday night's show.
House Democrats have launched an impeachment inquiry into Trump centered on an alleged attempt to pressure the Ukrainian government to announce investigations into a conspiracy theory about the 2016 presidential election and into a gas company which had hired former Vice President Joe Biden's son, Hunter.
Critics say that amounted to an abuse of power by Trump for his own political gain in the 2020 election. Some Republicans have complained the House effort is unfair.
There is no requirement that the House conduct a vote before launching an impeachment inquiry. Graham objected to the closed-door depositions that have been held, and he said "any impeachment vote based on this process, to me is illegitimate, is unconstitutional, and should be dismissed in the Senate without a trial."
Read Bill Taylor's full opening statement
Top diplomat Bill Taylor says Ukraine aid was linked to Trump demands of Biden, 2016 probes
WASHINGTON — The top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, Bill Taylor, told members of Congress Tuesday that President Donald Trump directed officials to tie foreign aid to Ukraine to demands that the country open an investigation into the Biden family as well as the 2016 election.
According to a copy of his opening statement provided to NBC News, Taylor said that E.U. Ambassador Gordon Sondland told him that while Trump was not requesting a "quid pro quo," he insisted Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy publicly announce investigations into the Bidens and matters relating to the 2016 presidential election.
Taylor said that Sondland told him, "President Trump was adamant that President Zelenskiy, himself, had to "clear things up and do it in public." President Trump said it was not a "quid pro quo." Ambassador Sondland said that he had talked to President Zelenskiy and [Zelenskiy adviser Andriy] Yermak and told them that, although this was not a quid pro quo, if President Zelenskiy did not clear things up public, we would be at a stalemate."
"I understood a stalemate mean that Ukraine would not receive the much-needed military assistance," Taylor added.
Read more of Taylor's testimony here.
Sondland willing to testify again if asked
As of Tuesday afternoon, E.U. Ambassador Gordon Sondland has not been asked to come and testify again before the House, according to a person with knowledge of Sondland’s plans. But if they do ask, he is willing to do so, that person said.
Ukraine envoy Bill Taylor's testimony on Tuesday raised questions about Sondland's past statements.
McConnell weighs in on Trump's 'lynching' tweet, Ukraine call claim
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., weighed in on the backlash over the president's Tuesday morning tweet comparing the impeachment inquiry to a "lynching."
"Given the history in our country, I would not compare this to a lynching." McConnell said when asked about the president's remark. "That was an unfortunate choice of words." He added, "It is an unfair process, and a better way to characterize it would to be to call it an unfair process, and inconsistent with the kinds of procedural safeguards that are routinely provided for people in this kind of situation, either in court or in an impeachment process in our country."
McConnell also denied Trump's claim that the majority leader had said his July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy was "innocent."
"I haven't — we've not had any conversations on that subject," McConnell said when asked about Trump's claim. Pressed on whether the president had been untruthful, the senator responded, "You'll have to ask him. I don't recall any conversations with the president about that phone call."
When asked earlier this month about what McConnell was telling him about the GOP's take on impeachment, Trump claimed that the senator had said, "That was the most innocent phone call that I've read."
Top diplomat Bill Taylor gave 'disturbing,' 'explosive' testimony on Trump's Ukraine dealings, Democrats say
WASHINGTON — The top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, Bill Taylor, offered a "disturbing" portrayal of President Donald Trump's Ukraine dealings during his closed door testimony to impeachment investigators on Tuesday, according to House Democrats.
Democrats described Taylor’s testimony as crucial, saying that he not only filled in many of the holes created by previous testimonies and depositions but is also drawing a "direct line" between the president's demand for an investigation by the Ukrainians into his political rivals and U.S. military aid.
"Without question the most powerful testimony," Rep. Steven Lynch, D-Mass., said, because Taylor has "first-hand knowledge” of all the conversations that were had.
Taylor’s opening statement is described by members as long, as many as 15 pages, according to Rep. Harley Rouda, D-Calif. Two Democrats also said that Taylor took "meticulous" personal notes but those have not yet been handed over to the committee.
Read more about Taylor's testimony and Democrats' reaction here.
Senate Democrats seek details on Trump's business in Turkey
Senate Democrats are asking the Trump Organization for details on how much it collects in business dealings from Turkey.
In a letter sent to President Donald Trump's company on Tuesday, four senators — Tom Udall of New Mexico, Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts — said they need information regarding the company's licensing agreement for Trump Towers-Istanbul to understand whether the president's foreign policy decisions "are being influenced by potential conflicts of interest."
Trump's moves to withdraw U.S. troops out of northern Syria at Turkey's request and to delay action in a money laundering case involving a Turkish bank are among the decisions the four Democratic lawmakers cite.
The letter notes that Trump himself acknowledged he could have "a little conflict of interest" when it comes to Turkey in a 2015 interview, and that the Trump Organization has pulled in between $1.2 million in royalties from the Trump Towers project since Trump took office.
The letter seeks answers about how much the company has made from its licensing agreement for Trump Towers Istanbul-Sisli, whether the Turkish government has the power to revoke the license, and whether there have been any communications between the Trump Organization and the Turkish government about U.S.-Turkey government relations.
The letter asks for a response by Nov. 12. It comes one day after NBC News reported that House Democrats are zeroing in on the framework of an "abuse of power" narrative for their impeachment case against the president.
A representative for the Trump Organization did not immediately respond to a request for comment.